Sachs Accuses US of Irresponsibility in Ukraine Crisis

The economist has argued that the bloodshed was caused by long-standing Western “arrogance” and NATO expansion.

Jeffrey Sachs, president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, believes the West could have prevented the Ukraine conflict, which he says had been brewing for years, by abandoning escalatory policies like NATO expansion. In an interview with Afshin Rattansi on Going Underground, Sachs, a renowned expert on post-Soviet economies and former UN Special Advisor, called the Ukraine conflict a “utter failure” of US diplomacy.

Sachs claims that G7 nations, particularly the US, “grew into a lot of arrogance,” believing they could dictate their will. He argues this approach has plunged the world into three major geopolitical crises, including the Ukraine and Gaza conflicts, while exacerbating Sino-US tensions over Taiwan.

”The US is… an irresponsible actor in all three of those events. When it comes to Ukraine, the irresponsibility is that this war could have been easily avoided… by NATO by declaring clearly [that it] will not expand into Ukraine,” he stated.

He criticized Western politicians and media for claiming the Russian military operation in Ukraine was “unprovoked.” Sachs pointed to numerous “provocations,” including multiple rounds of NATO expansion, the Western-backed coup in Kyiv, and the West’s failure to pressure Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements, a now-defunct deal aiming to end the conflict in the Donbass by granting the regions special status within Ukraine.

Sachs suggested that the West could have ended the conflict early on, as Moscow and Kyiv had reached a preliminary peace deal during talks in Türkiye, centered around Ukrainian neutrality. However, he claims then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “swooped in” and advised Kyiv against the agreement, a claim Johnson denies.

“This was a terrible piece of advice… and a dreadful, awful miscalculation,” Sachs said, adding it had resulted in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian deaths.

He alleged the US wants Kyiv to “fight to the last Ukrainian” rather than assisting in negotiating “the basic point” of Ukrainian neutrality. “This isn’t rocket science… Leave a little space in-between the major powers.”

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Moscow would begin peace talks with Ukraine once Ukraine withdraws its troops from the Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. The final agreement, he said, must include Ukrainian neutrality, “denazification” and “demilitarization,” as well as the lifting of Western sanctions against Moscow.