‘Putin expected capitulation but miscalculated,’ says ex-US presidential advisor
Russian President Vladimir Putin was expecting to intimidate Ukraine, the European Union and NATO by amassing troops at the Ukrainian border, but received a backlash instead, a U.S. expert said during a Kyiv Security Forum online discussion on Feb. 16.
The expert, former U.S. Presidential Advisor for Russia and Europe Fiona Hill, said Ukraine “is in a state of siege,” and the world community has no confidence that the Kremlin’s head would decide to not launch a new attack in the coming days.
“They thought that by deploying such a large number of troops in such an unprecedented format for conducting exercises... that they would thus intimidate not only Ukraine, but also NATO and Europe,” Hill said.
According to the former U.S. official, Russia thought that it could gain some sort of capitulation with its military buildup.
“But they got a backlash... Putin miscalculated. What he received was a rebuff from all partners, from the United States, from our other allies.”
Hill said the demands Russia had put forward to the United States and NATO concern not only Ukraine, but also the current world order and security opportunities both in Europe and the United States.
After deploying over 100,000 troops near the borders of Ukraine, Russia issued a demand for so-called “security guarantees” to the United States and NATO, among them a demand for a “written promise” that Ukraine would never join the alliance.
On Jan. 26, the United States and NATO delivered a written response to Moscow’s demands of “security guarantees.” They reaffirmed their commitment to the “open door” policy for new NATO members, refusing to rule out Ukraine and Georgia joining the alliance at some point in the future.
At the same time, the United States and NATO said they were ready to discuss other issues with Russia, such as arms control and confidence-building measures.
Meanwhile, NATO continues to strengthen its eastern flank by sending additional forces to Europe.
On Feb. 16, the U.S.-based CNN television news channel reported, citing a Ukrainian intelligence report, that the total number of Russian troops at the border had increased in recent days to more than 148,000, including more than 126,000 ground troops.
However, Ukrainian military experts at the Center for Strategic Defense have stated that they believe this number to be insufficient for a full-scale assault on Ukrainian territory.
Estonian foreign intelligence has indicated that they believe that Putin is unlikely to commit to a full-scale further invasion of Ukraine, but instead attempt to broaden the current conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region to Ukraine’s southern territories.
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