Henry Kissinger believes Vladimir Putin could deploy nuclear weapons in his war against Ukraine and this is something that “should be a subject of reflection” for the U.S.
If the Russian strongman does this, said the former secretary of state and Nobel Prize winner, “We can’t just accept it. It would open a new world of blackmail.”
Kissinger, who turns 99 on May 27, made these observations Saturday at the Financial Times Festival in Washington DC during a conversation with FT National Editor Ed Luce.
Having met the Russian president 25 times over the past 15 years, Kissinger said, “I learned his thinking. I thought he was kind of a mystic — with faith in Russian history as he perceived it.”
Admitting that “six months ago I would not have thought he’d start a war of that scale in Europe or anywhere,” Kissinger told a hushed audience the West must ponder “how much will he continue? Or has he reached the limit of his capabilities?”
As to whether Putin will deploy nuclear weapons, Kissinger asked aloud “[w]ill he escalate by moving into the category of weapons that in 70 years have [not been used]? Or will he accept the results [of a Ukrainian victory] without resulting to weapons that could have ended [the war] with different results?”
“We have to think how we react to that,” he said, “We can’t just accept it. It would open the world to a new world of blackmail.”
“Every war since World War II has been fought with conventional weapons,” Kissinger emphasized. But he quickly noted that “Ukraine has put an emphasis on [the possible use of] nuclear weapons. …the high tech countries will have to live with the consequences of their technology.”
He recalled discussions as a scholar on the outbreak of World War I, “which was not intended by any of the countries.” Part of the reason for its high casualties, Kissinger explained, “is that the technology that limited [casualties] as it was, got way ahead. And now, we’re in a new era.”
Use of nuclear weapons, he stressed, “should be a subject of reflection. If the line in nuclear weapons is crossed, it is something of a great consequence….It is not possible to ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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