Russia likely to invade Ukraine, McFarlane says - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Russia likely to invade Ukraine, McFarlane says

Posted: Updated:
Russian President Vladimir Putin is using gas that Russia supplies to Eastern Europe to intimidate governments in the region, former national  security advisor Bud McFarlane said. (Source: MGN Online) Russian President Vladimir Putin is using gas that Russia supplies to Eastern Europe to intimidate governments in the region, former national security advisor Bud McFarlane said. (Source: MGN Online)
President Obama should use the crisis over Crimea as an opportunity to rally the West and stand up to Putin, said two experts on the region. (Source: CNN) President Obama should use the crisis over Crimea as an opportunity to rally the West and stand up to Putin, said two experts on the region. (Source: CNN)
  • InternationalMore>>

  • Gaza rocket lands near Israel's main airport

    Gaza rocket lands near Israel's main airport

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 3:05 PM EDT2014-07-22 19:05:41 GMT
    Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state...More >>
    A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Israel's main airport Tuesday, wounding one Israeli and prompting all U.S. and some European and Canadian airlines to cancel flights to Tel Aviv - a reflection of high...More >>
  • UK announces inquiry for Russian spy death

    UK announces inquiry for Russian spy death

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 3:05 PM EDT2014-07-22 19:05:19 GMT
    The British government announced plans Tuesday for a wide-ranging public inquiry into the mysterious 2006 death of poisoned former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko. The decision, which comes at a time of rising...More >>
    The British government announced plans Tuesday for a wide-ranging public inquiry into the mysterious 2006 death of poisoned former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.More >>
  • UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon

    UN chief believes Gaza fighting will end soon

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 2:43 PM EDT2014-07-22 18:43:12 GMT
    The Palestinian U.N. envoy says a draft U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip will be formally circulated to the Security Council.More >>
    The U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday it is his "hope and belief" that his emergency mission to the Middle East will lead to an end to the fighting between Hamas and Israel "in the very near future."More >>

(RNN) – Russian aggression is likely not over in the Ukraine, said one foreign policy expert.

"(There is) a strong possibility they will invade eastern Ukraine," said former Reagan national security adviser Bud McFarlane.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed thousands of troops in Russia just across the border from Ukraine where they have been holding military exercises.

The groundwork for destabilizing Ukraine is already laid, says Olena Nikolayenko, a native of Ukraine and an expert on Russia. The propaganda war is already in full tilt, says Nikolayenko, a professor of international political science at Fordham University in New York. To justify an intervention into Ukraine, Putin is trying to establish that ethnic Russians living in Ukraine are being mistreated, Nikolayenko said.

"The volume and the magnitude of state propaganda on Russian TV is stunning," she said. "For example, the Russian TV Channel 1 reported that thousands of ethnic Russians are currently fleeing Ukraine, and showed images of a line in front of a border checkpoint. But Russians forgot to remove an image of the name of the checkpoint from the clip so it can be clearly seen. The footage came from a very busy checkpoint on the Polish-Ukrainian border, and there is no flight of ethnic Russians from Ukraine."

McFarlane also says there is every indication that Russia seeks to subvert eastern Ukraine and may urge for a separation referendum similar to the one just approved on Sunday in Crimea.

Nikolayenko agrees, and says that Putin has to keep in mind the yearning for democracy millions hold on to inside Russia itself. "Putin would like to gain control over eastern and southern parts of Ukraine," she said. "If Ukraine succeeds in joining the EU (European Union), it will significantly undermine the image of omnipotent Russia in the region. And it might inspire Russian civic activists to mobilize for regime change."

She added that so-called Russian "tourists" have arrived in several Ukrainian cities located within a few miles of the Russian-Ukrainian border, attempting to instigate pro-Russian sentiments and destabilize the political situation in the country. "In the near future, the Russian government is likely to interfere with the conduct of the presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for May in order to place a Russia-friendly politician into the president's office," she said.

The energy weapon

McFarlane says there are concrete steps American and its Western allies can take to slow Russia down and empower Eastern Europe.

"Ukraine‘s vulnerability rests on its reliance on Russian gas," he said. "There are ways to relieve that. That is to find alternative sources and develop pipelines that make gas available without coming through Russia."

He said gas could be sent to Europe through Azerbaijan and Turkey, a NATO member. "That would supply that huge demand without relying on Russia," he said. He also said America needs to urge European countries to suspend the planned South Stream pipeline that would make Europe even more dependent on gas from Russia.

An opportunity for the West

Without strong action now, Russia will be emboldened, McFarlane said. Russia will move beyond Crimea and into eastern Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Romania, he said. But Putin's aggression does present an opportunity for the West to regain its footing.

"The West – Europe and the United States – are the best hope for the principles of the rule of law, freedom, individual initiative and self-reliance," he said, adding that America needs to rally Europe and remind it of what principles hold the West together. He said failure to do so would undermine the future of those values throughout the world.

Right now McFarlane said there is not an appetite in NATO for military action, and that it would be America's responsibility to build momentum for such a decision.

He said President Obama also should use this occasion to reverse his 2009 decision to not put in missile defense systems to protect Eastern Europe. The plan, which would have put the interceptor missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic, was opposed by Moscow.

Nikolayenko said the U.S. and its allies can put the hurt to Russia and Putin's allies if they have the will. Many prominent Russians enjoy the pleasures of the West and lead a double life, she said. "Russia should be expelled from the G-8 immediately. It does not belong to the club of democratic and high-income states," she said. "In addition, Western governments can introduce economic sanctions that will penalize Putin's entourage for Russia's belligerent foreign policy. While Russian politicians publicly express anti-Western sentiments, they go shopping in Paris, send their kids to study in London, and buy assets in Europe and the United States. Western governments can freeze their bank accounts and seize their assets with the intent to investigate embezzlement or money laundering charges against them."

Putin's track record, goals

Putin seeks to bring all the former Soviet republics, with the exception of the Baltic States, under his control, Nikolayenko said. And he has been active in expanding his reach in nations bordering Russia, sometimes at the expense of America. "In addition to Ukraine, Armenia was bullied into halting negotiations with the European Union in November of 2013," she said. "The national parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic, located on the border with China, voted in favor of shutting down a U.S. Air Force base and leasing the base for the Russian troops for the next 15 years. The list goes on."

She said Putin wants to be remembered as a leader who revived Russia's greatness and restored Russia's control over Eastern Europe and Central Asia. His natural enemy is the desire most people have to live in freedom.

"Putin is obsessed with the idea of building the Eurasian Union and bringing all the former Soviet republics, with the exception of Baltic States, under Moscow's control," she said. "But it is impossible for him to achieve this goal if democratic institutions take root in the former Soviet republics because most people aspire to live in a free and democratic state. Obviously, Russia is not a democracy and it seeks to support autocrats in the region. To date, only Belarus and Kazakhstan joined the Customs Union with Russia."

Belarus is widely known as Europe's last dictatorship, and has been run by Alexander Lukashenka for the past 20 years, while Nursultan Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan since the collapse of communism.

Nikolayenko led a group of Fordham students on a trip to the Ukraine in 2013, where they stayed with students from Ukrainian Catholic University, many of whom have been involved in protests in Ukraine.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • Crisis in UkraineMore>>

  • Senators urge new sanctions against Russia

    Senators urge new sanctions against Russia

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 2:22 PM EDT2014-07-22 18:22:05 GMT
    Leading Democratic senators want harsh new measures against Russia for its actions in Ukraine. They are also asking President Barack Obama to add a Ukrainian rebel group to a U.S. terrorism blacklist.More >>
    Leading Democratic senators want harsh new measures against Russia for its actions in Ukraine. They are also asking President Barack Obama to add a Ukrainian rebel group to a U.S. terrorism blacklist.More >>
  • Airlines scrap Israel flights over missile fear

    Airlines scrap Israel flights over missile fear

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:41 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:41:12 GMT
    By The Associated Press Delta Air Lines is canceling all flights to Israel until further notice, citing reports that a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.More >>
    By The Associated Press In a sign of increased caution about flying near combat zones, U.S. and European airlines halted flights to Israel Tuesday after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion...More >>
  • Amid sanctions, France in warship sale to Russia

    Amid sanctions, France in warship sale to Russia

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:04:58 GMT
    French President Francois Hollande is defending plans to deliver a warship to Russia, despite calls for a European arms embargo against Moscow over the fighting in Ukraine.More >>
    France says it will go ahead with the sale of a warship to Russia despite calls for an arms embargo against the country, highlighting how Europe's strong business ties are hindering its ability to punish Moscow over...More >>
Powered by WorldNow