Fact Check: RFK Jr. Claims U.S. Pushed Ukraine to War With Russia


Democratic 2024 presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made a sequence of daring statements on Fox Information this week, blaming the U.S. for precipitating the stipulations that ended in the Ukraine-Russia struggle.

Kennedy argued with host Sean Hannity that makes an attempt to de-escalate violence between the Ukrainian Military and Russian separatist forces within the Donbas and Luhansk areas previous to the warfare have been hamstrung via U.S. involvement that took the adventure towards peace off-course.

Then again, Kennedy’s feedback have been briefly picked aside on social media, with claims that he had were given a number of sides of the historical past between the 2 countries fallacious and misunderstood the context in the back of the struggle.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert Kennedy Jr., 2024 presidential hopeful, testifies on the “Weaponization of the Federal Executive” listening to on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2023. Kennedy made plenty of daring remarks about U.S. involvement in Ukraine all through an interview with Fox Information’ Sean Hannity this week.
JIM WATSON/AFP by means of Getty Photographs

Talking on Tuesday evening, Kennedy made claims together with that the U.S. driven Ukraine into the warfare on two events, that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had signed a sequence of agreements supposed to de-escalate violence, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin had withdrawn troops following the invasion in 2022.

Responding to Kennedy’s feedback in a tweet seen 800,000 instances, Monetary Occasions Ukraine journalist Christopher Miller on July 26, 2023, wrote “No longer a unmarried factor RFK says here’s even remotely correct.”

Relating to claims made concerning the Minsk Accords, a couple of agreements made in 2014 and 2015 that have been intended to (however did not) finish violence, Miller stated: “US did not “push” Ukraine into warfare two times; Russia invaded two times. Zelensky did not run on or signal Minsk 2. Minsk 2 wasn’t 2019 or 2022; it was once 2015.” Miller added that “Putin did not withdraw troops, he despatched extra.”

Whilst Kennedy’s spokespeople have spoke back to a few of these feedback because the interview, Newsweek investigated in additional element whether or not a number of his key claims held as much as scrutiny.

“Ukraine (was once driven) into the warfare (via the U.S.) on two events”

The central premise of Kennedy’s claims is the signing of the Minsk Accords. Those agreements have been designed to prevent preventing in jap Ukraine, signed in September 2014 and February 2015. Whilst they did cut back preventing between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists, the accords by no means stopped the violence fully and Putin introduced they “now not exist” sooner than Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022.

The U.S. was once now not a signatory or taken with both of those agreements and neither was once Zelensky so, as we’re going to discover, it isn’t transparent how RFK Jr’s argument can get up.

“(Zelensky) gained…ran on one factor; signing the Minsk Accords”

This isn’t true. Zelensky did not run on one factor, as articles assessing his campaign promises have proven. Even if lots of his guarantees have been geared toward halting violence, it was once now not explicitly in tow with the agreements of the Minsk Accords, nor was once it his most effective coverage for election.

“Once he were given in there (Zelensky changing into Ukrainian president) Victoria Nuland and the White Space instructed him he could not do it (signal the Minsk Accords)”

Nuland was once U.S. assistant secretary of state for Eu and Eurasian affairs from 2013 to 2017, all through which period she was once closely concerned with Ukraine coverage. Lately, Nuland works as below secretary of state for affairs of state on the State Division.

There’s merely no proof that Nuland intervened to halt the signing of the Minsk Accords or different insurance policies designed to finish struggle. As now we have established, Zelensky didn’t signal the Minsk Accords. Newsweek has contacted RFK Jr.’s spokesperson for rationalization.

Nuland has up to now been the objective of Russian incorrect information efforts. In 2022, she was once related to unfounded claims that Ukraine had bioweapons labs, in response to feedback from a March 8, 2022, Senate listening to that have been taken extensively out of context. The claims have been unfold via Russian state media, in addition to conservative U.S. information retailers together with Fox.

“(Zelensky) signed a brand new settlement that was once the Minsk Accords II in 2022”

Once more, the Minsk Accords II weren’t signed in 2022. It was once signed in 2015 and it didn’t prevent preventing.

Zelensky and Putin did meet in 2019 in Paris, France, ostensibly to speak about non violent answers. A 2022 biography of Zelensky stated all events expressed the purpose of agreeing at the felony sides of native self-government within the areas of Donbas and Luhansk.

Events have been stated to have additionally expressed pastime within the Steinmeier System, described as a simplified model of the Minsk Accords calling for native elections, below the law of the Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe, within the separatist-controlled area within the east of Ukraine, adopted via a different self-governing standing.

The method was once signed in October 2019, via representatives from Ukraine and Russia, however led to protests in Kyiv.

Consistent with a 2019 article via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Zelensky stated he had agreed to native elections within the Donbas however below Ukrainian regulation and now not till each Russian forces withdrew and Ukraine retook keep an eye on of its state border. Russia sought after elections first sooner than the withdrawal of troops.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov known as the settlement “crucial step” however added that the “implementation of the Minsk agreements will proceed.”

Talks halted because the COVID pandemic swept the arena. As lockdowns lifted globally, in February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.

“(The Minsk Accords II) would have allowed Donbas to stick, and Luhansk, to stick…to stay as a part of Ukraine”

That is an oversimplified description of occasions. As up to now discussed, the Steinmeier System was once supposed to halt the impasse between the 2 countries over converting the governing standing of Donbas and Luhansk which had now not been discovered on account of the Minsk Accords.

As discussed, even after the signing of the Steinmeier System, there was once nonetheless hesitancy as to when native elections would happen, both sooner than or after the withdrawal of troops and Ukraine’s reclamation of its state border. The simplicity of RFK Jr.’s argument does now not point out the hundreds of people that had died since 2014 both, which grew as negotiations persevered. Through the beginning of the warfare in 2022, 14,000 other folks had already been killed.

The Steinmeier System additionally lacked recognition regionally. Consistent with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, it was once adverse via 23 % of Ukrainian respondents, with two-thirds announcing they have been “not able to fee” it.

“Putin in just right religion, started retreating troops from the Ukraine (after Minsk II was once signed)”

As a result of the way in which RFK Jr. frames his argument, incorrectly mentioning the Minsk Accords and agreements on Donbas and Luhansk autonomy, it isn’t right away transparent whether or not he’s regarding forces preventing within the east of Ukraine pre-2022 or Russian forces that entered the rustic in February final yr.

The preliminary Russian invasion pressure in 2022 consisted of round 190,000 troops, in keeping with the Middle for Strategic and Global Research suppose tank, and at no level did Putin start “retreating troops” except for based on battlefield dynamics, as took place north of Kyiv in March and April of 2022.

A spokesperson for RFK Jr. instructed Newsweek previous this week that the Democrat was once, if truth be told, regarding the 2014 and 2015 agreements however insisted there was once a troop withdrawal that got here on account of talks between Zelensky and Putin.

The spokesperson stated: “The legit explanation why given within the Western press was once army setbacks. In reality, the Russians initiated the withdrawal as a part of a tentative settlement with Zelensky, sooner than Boris Johnson scuttled the settlement.”

It’s been recommended that during April 2022, then U.Okay. High Minister Boris Johnson attempted to influence Zelensky to not negotiate with Putin after Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met in past due March in Istanbul for peace talks.

The level of Johnson’s affect has now not been verified. The declare that Russian troops have been “withdrawn” is doubtful too. Troops retreated from Kyiv oblast in April, which they have got did not recapture since.

Whilst described via Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan at a White Space press briefing on April 4, 2022, as a “redeployment” moderately than retreat, the perception that those frontline adjustments have been influenced via talks in Istanbul, now not battlefield technique, turns out unsure and now not supported via the to be had proof.

No proof was once supplied to improve the declare Johnson blocked a peace settlement, and the declare that Russia withdrew its forces from Kyiv because of an settlement with Zelensky is extensively disputed via political and armed forces mavens.

Newsweek has put each and every of the claims it investigated to RFK Jr.’s spokespeople by means of e-mail. There was no reaction as of the time of e-newsletter.

Except RFK Jr. may give substantive evidence to improve a few of his arguments, the claims the Democratic hopeful made on Fox Information merely don’t fit the information.

It’s not the primary time that RFK Jr.’s spokespeople have needed to explain arguments he has made concerning the warfare in Ukraine. In June 2023, talking on The Joe Rogan Revel in podcast, he claimed that the U.S. had spent “$8 trillion at the Ukraine warfare. That is $24 trillion that they needed to print to pay for not anything.”

His spokesperson added: “What he intended was once that spending at the Iraq and Afghanistan wars totaled $8 trillion. He apologizes for the misstatement.”

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