During a NewsNation town hall with the presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. expresses his deep empathy for the Ukrainian people and strongly condemns Putin's invasion of Ukraine. He also raises concerns about NATO expansion, the US withdrawal from the INF treaty, and the rejection of the April 2022 peace agreement by the West.
Drawing upon his uncle, President Kennedy's belief in the importance of avoiding war, Kennedy Jr. emphasizes his personal connection to the conflict, mentioning that his son volunteered as a machine gunner for a Ukrainian special forces unit during the Kharkiv offensive.
He argues that the war could have ended in April 2022, when Putin and Zelensky signed a peace agreement. However, he asserts that the US and NATO sent Boris Johnson to sabotage the agreement, which would have resulted in Russian troop withdrawal from Ukraine in exchange for a promise that Ukraine would not join NATO.
Kennedy Jr. criticizes the proxy nature of the war, stating, "Since then, there have been 350,000 Ukrainian kids that have been killed. And we've turned this into a proxy war between Russia and the United States. We were told this was a humanitarian exercise."
He highlights contradictory statements made by President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, indicating that the US's motives in Ukraine were not purely humanitarian but rather focused on regime change and degrading the Russian military.
"If it was humanitarian, that means reducing bloodshed and shortening the conflict. But when President Biden was asked why are we over there? He said for regime change of Vladimir Putin."
"His Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in April 2022 that the reason for America's presence in Ukraine is to degrade the Russian military and exhausts its capacity to operate anywhere in the world. That is the opposite of a humanitarian mission. That is a mission about a war of attrition in which the people who are dying are Ukrainians."
Referring to his uncle's approach to international relations, Kennedy Jr. underscores the importance of understanding adversaries' perspectives and recognizing their legitimate security concerns. He notes that NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe, despite assurances given to Russia in 1992, has created tension and mistrust.
"Secretary Baker famously said at the time, we will not move NATO one inch to the east. Since then, we have moved it 1000 miles to the east into 14 countries, and we put Aegis missile systems into Romania and Poland, right near Russia's border."
Drawing historical parallels, Kennedy Jr. mentions the Cuban Missile Crisis and his uncle's negotiations with the Soviet Union, illustrating the need for diplomatic solutions and compromise.
"When Russia put nuclear missiles in Cuba, which is farther away than we now have to Moscow, we would have invaded if they hadn't withdrawn them. My uncle, who was president then, would have gone in. My uncle knew why the Russians had done it.
Khrushchev did it because we had put Jupiter missile systems in Italy and Turkey. My uncle and my father met with Ambassador Dobrynin secretly and made a deal. If you remove your missiles now, we will take ours out of Turkey."
"The Russians have been invaded three times through Ukraine. The last time they were invaded, the Germans killed 1 out of every 7 Russians. They destroyed 1/3 of Russia to rubble. They burned the fields."
"It's as if, my uncle said in his 1963 speech at American University, they destroyed the equivalent of the entire part of the US from the east coast to Chicago. Imagine if all the wheat fields and all the forests were burned. All this is reduced to rubble. That's what was done."
They have a legitimate concern about us moving NATO into Ukraine. We would never let them put missile systems in Canada or Mexico, we would invade if they did that. And we have to be able to put ourselves in their positions."
Kennedy Jr. references the opinions of respected U.S. government figures such as George Kennan, William Perry, and William Burns, who have all warned that moving NATO into Ukraine would cross Russia's "red line," resulting in violent retaliation.
To emphasize the importance of truth and understanding, Kennedy Jr. shares the story of Phil Donahue, a news host who lost his job at the height of his popularity, for challenging the narrative surrounding the Iraq War and saying that there were no weapons of mass destruction. He calls for a nuanced and empathetic approach to international relations, urging people to seek the truth and move away from simplistic depictions of conflicts where America is always portrayed as the "good guy."
"So what I'm saying today, I know 10 years from now, everybody's going to understand this is the truth. We have been lied to by our press our government, and we need to start hearing the truth, and we need to stop paying attention to these comic book depictions that say there are bad guys and good guys and America is always the good guy and we never make mistakes.
We have to understand there's nuance. There's complexity in our relationships, and we need to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of our adversaries if we're going to have true peace in the world which we all want."
In conclusion, Kennedy Jr. advocates for peace, the consideration of multiple perspectives, and the rejection of false narratives perpetuated by the media and government.
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