‘Reckless’ for talking about beating Russia, says former Soviet Union adviser

Russia has “considerable firepower” and it is reckless to talk about beating the country, according to a former Soviet Union economic adviser.

Jeffrey Sachs, now an economics professor at Columbia University, said the US seems to believe it can defeat Russia militarily, and that the West is backing Ukraine in its effort to push Russia out.

“With that vision, Ukraine has decided not to continue the ongoing negotiations,” although talks progress in late March, he told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia on Friday. Instead, “Ukraine changed the tune and said their goal now is to beat Russia.”

“What it means is an escalation of war, an escalation of global dangers, an escalation of economic consequences and a missed opportunity to find a way out of this conflict as it was already taking shape,” Sachs said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this week that he does not foresee peace negotiations over Ukraine in the near future.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and the White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment, which was sent after business hours.

I believe that the dangers are very great and that there is a lot of naivety at the moment…

Jeffrey Sachs

former economic adviser to the Soviet Union

‘Huge danger’

There is currently no exit from the “clear US war targets,” and that is a dangerous situation, Sachs said.

“I’ve seen decades of reckless American foreign policy and American bravado, and I’m afraid we’re back on track,” he said.This is not to condone the Russian invasion.”

“I believe the dangers are very great and there is now a lot of naivety and Ukraine acted in it.”

There could be a lot of destruction, loss of life and “huge danger to the whole world,” including in the form of economic spillovers, the professor said.

Russia has “considerable firepower” and it is reckless to talk about beating the country, said Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University.

Tian Bing | China News Service | Getty Images

He added that Finland’s expected bid to join NATO makes it difficult to reach a negotiated outcome, and that it brings NATO and Russia “to the edge”.

Not everyone agrees.

Michal Baranowski of the German Marshall Fund said NATO’s potential expansion into the Nordic countries reduces the likelihood of a conflict with Russia.

Instead, if countries like Finland and Sweden are not part of the alliance, Russia is more likely to confront them, he told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Friday.

“Bringing Sweden and Finland [into NATO] makes our alliances more secure and a military confrontation with Russia less likely, even though it’s clear Russia won’t like this, of course,” said Baranowski, a senior fellow.

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