(NewsNation) — Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Wednesday criticized the Biden administration’s strategy in Ukraine, calling it a
proxy war with Russia.
“We’ve turned that nation into … a pawn in a proxy war between Russia and the United States,” Kennedy Jr. said during a town hall hosted by NewsNation, moderated by Elizabeth Vargas.
Kennedy called U.S. involvement in the war “terrible for the Ukrainian people.”
“We have neglected many, many opportunities to settle this war peacefully,” Kennedy said. “I think the way that we have conducted the war is bad.”
Kennedy blamed decades of U.S. and NATO policy toward Ukraine and Russia for creating conditions for the war.
“We were told this was a humanitarian exercise,” he said. “If it was humanitarian, it means reducing bloodshed and shortening the conflict.”
He criticized a statement made by President Joe Biden, who early last year remarked that Putin “cannot remain in power,” but later said he was not calling for a regime change.
“That is the opposite of a humanitarian mission,” Kennedy said. “That is a mission about a war of attrition in which the people dying are Ukrainians.”
Kennedy said he doesn’t know exactly what a negotiated peace would look like, or whether it would mean ceding Ukrainian territory to Russia.
When asked what he would do to end the war, Kennedy said U.S. leaders have to acknowledge Russia’s security concerns and put themselves in the shoes of their adversaries.
Russia has “legitimate security concerns” about moving NATO into Ukraine, he said: “We would never let them put missile systems in Canada or Mexico, we would invade if they did.”
While his views have drawn both support and criticism, Kennedy emphasized the importance of truth and restoring America’s moral authority on the global stage.
His position may be out of step with most Democratic voters, the majority of whom support Biden’
s reponse to the war in Ukraine. But Kennedy said that doesn’t make it right.
“We need to restore our moral authority around the world,” he said. “If every Democrat is against me on that, I’m still going to say it.”
The Hill contributed to this report.