Putin is ‘deadly serious’ about neutralizing Ukraine, and has the upper hand over the West, former US diplomats and officials warn

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking into a microphone.Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a concert marking the seventh anniversary of the Crimea annexation on March 18, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.

The escalation of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border has inspired panics of an takeover. Onetime US diplomats and officials say there’s a significant risk of a Russian incursion, payed Putin’s biography. “One way or another, he wants Ukraine counteracted, ” Fiona Hill, a top Russia expert, told Insider.

For the second time this year, there are serious concerns that Russia is on the verge of conquering Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Russian units have amassed along Ukraine’s mete, raising alarm across the West. Ukraine’s director on Friday claimed to have uncovered a coup scheme involving Russians . The world is on edge, with leaders in Washington and beyond ponder what Russian President putin will do next.

“We don’t know what President Putin’s intents are, but we do know what’s happened in the past, ” Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently told reporters . “We do know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and then using that as an excuse to do what Russia is planning to do all along.”

Former US diplomats, ex-officials, and professionals said here today that a Russian military incursion into Ukraine is a strong possibility in the very near future, emphasizing that Putin has a significant advantage over the US and NATO at a time when numerous Western countries are affliction by domestic disarray.

“There is a major risk of Russian military activity in Ukraine in the next few months. All the signs point to a major building and strengthening of military capability, ” Ivo Daalder, the US ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013, told Insider.

Moscow’s rhetoric at the moment is “designed to heighten tensions” while “placing blame on the US and NATO for any possible escalation, ” Daalder said.

Putin is “deadly serious” about taking action on Ukraine, Fiona Hill, who performed as the top Russia advisor on the National Security Council under the Trump administration, told Insider. “One way or another, he craves Ukraine liquidated, ” she included.

“You’ve got to take it gravely because Russia has intersected the Rubicon many times before when people said they wouldn’t, ” Hill said, pointing to Russia’s takeover of Georgia in 2008, Putin’s unilateral takeover of Crimea in 2014, and the Kremlin’s expressed support for rebels in an ongoing war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, among other examples. The Kremlin, for its part, has repudiated any involvement in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which claimed responsibility for over 13,000 beings since 2014.

With historic political polarization in the US, a thriving part between the US and European collaborators, and disunity within a number of European countries, Putin views the West as shaky at present and participates an “incredible opportunity” to employ, Hill said, said the Russian president “knows none of us want to fight for Ukraine.”

The US has provided over $2.5 billion in insurance assistance to Ukraine since 2014. There’s strong bipartisan help in Congress for ramping up that financial assistance , but it’s extremely unlikely that the US would send in troops to support Ukraine even if Russia did invade.

‘A country that has invaded Ukraine before’RussiaUnits of Russian mountain air assault division hold exercise in Crimea in March 2021.

Steven Pifer, the Distinguished ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000, told Insider that he applies the stranges of Russia invading Ukraine on the “low side” because the “potential costs to the Kremlin could be very high: political segregation, more fiscal and individual sanctions, NATO more rejuvenated and, most importantly, Russian soldiers coming home in body luggage, which has not been able to be favourite at home.”

But Pifer likewise underscored that Putin has his “own logic, ” determining it hard to rule anything out. The US and Europe need to make it apparent there would be “big costs” if Russia made military action, Pifer said, suggesting that it should be privately communicated to the Kremlin what type of sanctions would be implemented.

“If Russia does conquer, NATO will not make direct military action against Russia, ” Pifer contributed. “But you will likely construe more weapons gives by individual NATO members to Ukraine, and the Alliance as a whole will become even more serious about bolstering its deterrence and defense posture against Russia.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday warned Russia there will be “costs” and “consequences” if thrust is use against Ukraine, the Associated Press reported. Stoltenberg said Russia’s armed escalation “is unprovoked and unexplained, ” warning that it creates pressures and threats miscalculations.

“There is no certainty about the intentions of Russia, ” the NATO chief said, but lent “this is a military buildup by a country that has invaded Ukraine before.”

The top US diplomat for European affairs, Karen Donfried, on Friday told reporters that “all options are on the table” in terms of a response to the Russian troop buildup, per Reuters.

Ukraine is’ unfinished business’ for PutinRussia aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov Vladimir PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin sounds over a mockup of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov while at a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, January 9, 2020.

The Kremlin has disclaimed any plans to invade Ukraine, while blaming NATO for the contentious dynamic. Last Thursday, Putin said the West was not take Russia’s “red lines” seriously enough.

“We’re incessantly voicing our concerns about this, talking about red texts, but we understand our partners — how shall I situate it mildly — have a exceedingly superficial attitude to all our admonishings and are speaking about red directions, ” Putin said in a addres on foreign policy. Putin claimed that Western strategic bombers had been flying within roughly 12.5 miles of Russia’s borders.

This came after the Kremlin in September warned that NATO expanding armed infrastructure in Ukraine would cross Putin’s “red lines.” Russia has repeatedly denounced US and NATO armed activities in the Black Sea region.

Though Ukraine is not a full NATO member, it has persistently uttered a desire to join while maintaining a robust partnership with the alliance. This has infuriated Putin — a onetime KGB operative — who looks the increase of US and NATO armed activities in Ukraine as a serious threat to Russian security. Moscow has moved to crush virtually any Western influence in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic and its nextdoor neighbor.

Putin is “engaged in a strategy of interruption, ” Daalder said, with the goal of broadcasting “disunity in Europe and the region” to ensure that “he and Russia aren’t ignored.”

The Russian president places Ukraine “at the top of the hierarchy of issues that he wants to resolve” in terms of his red directions in Europe being recognized and respected, Hill said, underscoring that Putin views Ukraine as “unfinished business.” Putin would be open to achieving a diplomatic decide, Hill said, but could take things further if he is believed that Russia isn’t being give serious consideration.

The only way Putin will lose the “upper hand” he has over the West when it comes to Ukraine is if there is a “collective, emphatic, diplomatic response, ” Hill said.

“The big challenge is for Europe, ” Hill said, stressed the importance of the US can’t resolve this on its own.

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