Oct. 17, 2022
Sebastian Kurz argued that with nuclear weapons in play, the EU must pursue negotiations
Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told Germany’s Bild am Sontag newspaper that EU leaders must pursue a “peaceful solution” to the conflict in Ukraine, as “losing is not an option” for Russia. Brussels, meanwhile, has stuck to arms shipments and nuclear rhetoric.
“Everyone rightly wants a victory for Ukraine,” Kurz told the newspaper. “But losing is not an option for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”
Kurz, who resigned last year amid corruption charges he insisted were politically motivated, argued that “in the face of the nuclear threat, the European Union must press ahead with the path of negotiation.”
“At the moment, the most important thing is to end the bloodshed and achieve a peaceful solution at the negotiating table in order to prevent a total escalation on our continent,” he said.
Kurz is far from the only public figure to cite Russia’s supposed “nuclear threat.” US President Joe Biden warned earlier this month of a “direct threat” of nuclear “armageddon” from Russia, while his secretary of state, Antony Blinken, threatened Russia with “dire consequences” should it use an atomic weapon in Ukraine. As Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky called for pre-emptive strikes on Russia, EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell declared on Thursday that Moscow’s forces would be “annihilated” if Russia struck first.
Putin has not threatened Ukraine with nuclear strikes, and in his public statements has affirmed Russia’s nuclear doctrine: that Russia will defend itself with “all available means” if the existence of the Russian Federation is threatened.
In a speech last month, Putin framed the conflict in Ukraine as an existential struggle between Russia and a “totalitarian” West bent on weakening and vassalizing her. In a separate statement, he described Russian forces as fighting “the entire Western military machine” in Ukraine.
Broadly, Western leaders have supported the idea of the conflict ending in a negotiated settlement, but stressed that Ukraine should be allowed to dictate the terms of any peace deal. Until then, the US, G7, and EU have all vowed to arm Ukraine for “as long as it takes” for Kiev to reach its goals – which include the seizure of areas of Ukraine now incorporated into the Russian Federation.
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