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Jeffrey Sachs blames US ‘irresponsibility’ for Ukraine crisis

The bloodshed was caused by long-standing Western “arrogance” and NATO expansion, the economist has said

The West could have easily prevented the catastrophic Ukraine conflict, which had been brewing for many years, by abandoning its many escalatory policies including NATO expansion, according to Jeffrey Sachs, the president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

In an interview with Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi on Saturday, Sachs, a prominent expert on post-Soviet economies who served for more than a decade as Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General, claimed that the Ukraine conflict represented the “utter failure” of US diplomacy.

He said that G7 countries, particularly the US, “grew into a lot of arrogance,” in believing that they could do whatever they wanted. This approach, Sachs argued, has drawn the world into three major geopolitical crises, including the Ukraine and Gaza conflicts, while fueling Sino-US tensions over Taiwan.

”The US is… an irresponsible actor in all three of those events. When it comes to Ukraine, the irresponsibility is that this war could have been easily avoided… by NATO by declaring clearly [that it] will not expand into Ukraine,” he said.

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He also chided Western politicians and media for claiming that the Russian military operation in Ukraine was “unprovoked.” Sachs recalled that it had been preceded by numerous “provocations,” including several waves of NATO expansion, the Western-backed coup in Kiev, and the West’s failure to pressure Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements. The now-defunct deal sought to end the bloodshed in the two Donbass republics by giving them a special status within the Ukrainian state.

The economist also suggested that the West could have easily ended the conflict early on, as Moscow and Kiev had largely worked out a preliminary peace deal during talks in Türkiye, which revolved around Ukraine’s neutrality. However, according to Sachs, then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “swooped in” and advised Kiev against the agreement, a claim denied by Johnson.

“This was a terrible piece of advice… and a dreadful, awful miscalculation,” Sachs said, adding that it had resulted in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian deaths.

He alleged that the US wants Kiev to “fight to the last Ukrainian” instead of helping to negotiate “the basic point” of Ukraine’s neutrality. “This isn’t rocket science… Leave a little space in-between the major powers.”

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would begin peace talks with Ukraine once it withdraws its troops from the Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions. The final agreement, he said, must include Ukraine’s neutrality, “denazification” and “demilitarization,” as well as the lifting of Western sanctions against Moscow.

June 15, 2024 at 06:18PM

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