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German General Kujat Praises Kerry-Putin Meeting, Sees Potential for Russia and the U.S. To Resolve Ukraine Crisis

May 14, 2015 (EIRNS)—Gen. Harald Kujat (ret.), former Bundeswehr chief of staff and former head of the NATO Military Committee (2002-2005), praised U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting in Sochi with President Putin as a step towards the American leadership accepting Russia as a strategic nuclear power.

"Putin wants to be a partner on equal footing with the United States,". he said. Answering Web.de Magazine interviewer Fabienne Rzitki about the different views of European and American politicians, Gen. Kujat replied:

"The Europeans are in no case for weapon deliveries to Ukraine, as that will prolong the crisis, heat it up, and lead to escalation. The Americans see it differently. There are politicians of the opinion that they have to strengthen Ukraine defense capability, for instance by weapons deliveries. I consider that a mistake, as Ukraine will never be in a position to build itself up as a counterweight to Russia. Through that, you trigger counter-reactions. And so it will continuously escalate. Thus the danger exists that the conflict would become uncontrollable and expand. I hope this can all be changed through Kerry’s visit and that the Americans now politically engage in a solution."

To the question as to whether Russia has changed its position to the West, Gen. Kujat answered: "What has not changed is the strategic view of the Russians. They have always feared encirclement—especially from NATO. Russia has always seen the enlargement of NATO as a risk factor for its own security." After describing the weaknesses of Russia after the break-up of the Soviet Union, but how it has now regained military strength, Gen. Kujat made the obvious point: "That means, what Russia always sought, to be a partner on equal footing on the international stage, has been made possible over this time." Putin had always said this, as in 2007 (at the Munich Security Conference) and with the Ukraine crisis, he reacted. "This was thus a development that built up over a longer time period."

To a question about Germany’s role, he praised its seeking a political solution, "But we can’t replace the Americans, who are the counterpole to Russia." On a new Cold War, he commented that he doesn’t use that term, as he remembers the phases where things got hot: the [1948] Berlin Blockade, the Korean War, the Berlin uprising of 1953, and the 1956 Hungary uprising, or, the Cuba Missile Crisis of 1962.

"There, with great difficulty, we turned things around. Therefore I avoid using the term Cold War also now. Russia is a nuclear superpower—just as is the United States. ... That means, every military escalation with Russia contains the risk, that out of that, a nuclear escalation results. That would be the end of the world."

Asked whether the rift between the West and Russia is too great for a solution, General Kujat was straightforward:

"As long as there is no direct military incident between Russia and the West, it can be solved. And it must be solved. There is no alternative to that. And by the way, Putin knows that too. Hopefully, they all understand that. Apparently the Americans now have understood that."