Kissinger Calls To Cede To Russia Akin to 1930s Appeasement, Zelensky Says

Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger's calls for Ukraine to give up part of its territory to reach a peace deal with Russia is akin to attempts to appease Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

In a video address late on Wednesday, the Ukrainian leader shut down suggestions made by Kissinger on Monday that Ukraine should concede to Russia and give up two eastern regions occupied by Russian forces.

Kissinger, 98, who served as the 56th Secretary of State until 1977, suggested at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week that Ukraine and Russia should begin peace talks in the coming months, and that Zelensky should cede territory to Russian President Vladimir Putin to put an end to the war that began in February.

Responding to the former secretary of state's remarks, Zelensky said Kissinger "emerges from the deep past and says that a piece of Ukraine should be given to Russia."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Henry Kissinger
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) on Wednesday condemned former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s (L) calls for Ukraine to accept giving up part of its territory to reach a peace deal with Russia. Getty Images/Laurent Van der Stockt / JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP

He said Kissinger's "calendar is not 2022, but 1938"—referring to the Munich Agreement, which was signed by Britain, France, Italy and Germany in 1938 and paved the way for Nazi Germany to annex western Czechoslovakian territory.

"Whatever the Russian state does, you will always find someone who says 'Let's take its interests into account,'" Zelensky said. "You get the impression that Mr Kissinger…thinks he is talking to an audience not in Davos but in Munich back then."

Zelensky suggested that Kissinger would never have suggested that the world "adapt" to the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s.

"By the way, in the real year 1938, when Mr. Kissinger's family was fleeing Nazi Germany, he was 15 years old, and he understood everything perfectly. And nobody heard from him then that it was necessary to adapt to the Nazis instead of fleeing them or fighting them," Zelensky continued.

"Those who advise Ukraine to give something to Russia, these 'great geopolitical figures,' never see ordinary people, ordinary Ukrainians, millions living on the territory they are proposing to exchange for an illusory peace. You must always see people," he said.

Zelensky has repeatedly asserted that he will not give up territory to end the war with Russia, now in its third month. Ukraine has laid out key conditions, including that Ukraine would only consider the conflict over when the country regains control over land currently occupied by Russian troops.

"We want everything back," Zelensky said in an interview with a Ukrainian news channel on May 21. "Russia does not want to give anything away."

Newsweek has reached out to a Kissinger spokesperson for comment.