On Saturday, August 6, the former U.S. State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Kurt Volker, visited Kyiv for the first time since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Volker talked about how the attitude of Americans toward Ukraine has changed since then, how long the West will help Kyiv, whether we should fear the second coming of Donald Trump, and what he thinks about the scandal with Amnesty International.
offers the main points from the diplomat’s talk with journalists, attended by SPEKA.
What do Americans think of Ukraine and the war?
According to Volker, the people of America express great respect, admiration, and support for Ukraine and Ukrainians.
"The American people now see real Ukrainians who are resolute and committed to their country, the ones that are able and willing to fight," Volker emphasized.
He says that people in the U.S. have understood that Ukraine is not some mysterious place but a real European democracy that is fighting for its independence, and hence their attitudes have changed completely.
How long will the West be helping Kyiv fight the war?
The diplomat affirmed that although the aid to Ukraine is costly (the $40 billion aid package is but one example), he sees no reason for the support to cease.
At the same time, Volker warned that the tough times are yet to come because all of Europe is anticipating a very harsh winter due to the uncertainty with energy supplies.
"The hardest is yet to come. That’s why aid to Ukraine should continue, both military and financial," he emphasized.
Volker explained that the stability of the intention to help depends on the political will and the effectiveness of this help. A problem can arise if the West suspects that it is tossing money away and, due to corruption, it ends up in someone’s pockets. But this hasn’t happened yet.
Why can Ukraine be given missiles with a range of 190 miles?
The diplomat thinks that the limitations on the range of the missiles and artillery supplied to Ukraine have no sense and that the U.S. could give Ukraine missiles with a range of up to 190 miles instead of the 50-mile missiles provided today. He deems the argument about Ukraine striking on Russia’s territory to be insignificant.
"Russia is shelling Ukraine from its own territory. So Ukraine must be given an opportunity to respond symmetrically to defend itself," he explained.
Volker thinks that, in order to strike on Russia’s territory from areas near Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities near the Russian border, even missiles with a range of less than 50 miles can be enough.
On the other hand, some Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia are more than 50 miles away from the current frontline, so Ukraine must have the ability to hit targets on its own territory.
"So why don’t we give Ukraine the weapons? It’s completely illogical," Volker said.
When will the war end, and what weapons does Russia still have?
The American diplomat believes that nobody can give an exact forecast of the end of Ukraine's war against Russia, but victory can be brought closer by the most accurate decisions.
He gives the following "recipe" for this:
- Give weapons to Kyiv;
- Contribute to the economic reconstruction of Ukraine;
- Don’t concede to the terms of Putin’s regime.
Volker points out that half of Russia’s military capabilities have already been destroyed, speaking of both trained personnel and equipment, weapons, and high-precision missiles.
Russia is also having problems with chips and other components for manufacturing high-precision weapons.
"They have already reached their maximum effort in this war, and they have nowhere to draw strength from," Volker believes.
The potential general mobilization won’t solve Russia’s problems but rather add to them, he adds, because it can destabilize society.
"The general mobilization can become a match that will set it all on fire," the diplomat says.
Can Putin press the nuclear button?
So far, the probability of nuclear weapons being used appears very small, Volker says. One should understand that the use of strategic nuclear weapons against the U.S. or the European Union would mean the destruction of Russia.
As for the use of tactical nuclear weapons against the Ukrainian military in Ukraine, the diplomat also doesn’t think it to be reasonable because it would result in the territory Russia is trying to capture becoming unlivable and unusable.
"Russia’s use of nuclear weapons would likely result in a direct military response from the collective West," Volker says.
According to him, both the President of the U.S., Joe Biden, and the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, said this, although not expressly.
After all, the Russian military might simply not act on Putin’s order, Volker says.
Will Donald Trump become president for the second time?
Volker reassured those who fear Trump's "second coming" by saying that the U.S. presidential election is more than two years away.
"We have the Administration headed by Mr. Biden, States Secretary Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Austin, and they are all strongly committed to Ukraine. We have the Congress where both houses have very strong bipartisan support for Ukraine," he stressed.
He thinks that after the November 2022 elections, the balance will most likely shift to the benefit of the Republicans, but most of them support Ukraine.
When commenting on the prospects of Donald Trump as a potential president, Volker remarked that it needs many prerequisites: the politician should first become a candidate and win the election and even then, if he tries to change the course of supporting Ukraine, the Congress will unlikely support this.
Does Amnesty International and Russian propaganda influence the U.S.?
The diplomat doesn’t believe that Amnesty International or similar international organizations have any influence on the attitudes of American society, unlike those of the European one.
At the same time, he warns that among both Democrats and Republicans, up to 20% are opposed to support for Ukraine and anti-Russian sanctions.
The far right and the far left, or isolationists and appeasers, started offering arguments which found certain support.
"They ask: how long are we going to give aid? OK, $40 billion this year. The same next year. And what’s next? How long will it last? Are our European allies doing enough? Why does the U.S. have to carry the burden of aid almost alone?" Volker explained.