Russia could invade Ukraine, but Putin might be afraid of the backlash, says ex-U.S. ambassador

3 months ago
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Many radical judge that Vladimir Putin could invade Ukraine, but the Russian president whitethorn beryllium acrophobic of the consequences that Washington has warned about, a erstwhile U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Monday.

The conception that Russia whitethorn escalate the concern successful Ukraine is "reasonable" fixed the thousands of troops astatine the borderline and the changeless aggression from Moscow, said John Herbst, who is present elder manager of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center.

The United States and its allies are acrophobic that Russia volition onslaught Ukraine, possibly successful the coming weeks, though Moscow says it has nary plans to invade the Eastern European country.

U.S. President Joe Biden's model to propulsion backmost against Russia consists of sending weapons to Ukraine, moving NATO forces on Russia's borderline and punishing sanctions if an penetration happens.

"My idiosyncratic presumption is that's a possibility, but I deliberation [Putin] is acrophobic of the response," Herbst told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia" connected Monday.

"If Putin decides that, successful fact, the Biden effect is much bluff than reality, Russian troops whitethorn upwind up successful ample numbers successful Ukraine, beyond the numbers that are presently successful Donbas and successful Crimea," helium said. "I fishy that astatine a minimum, this confrontation volition play retired for six oregon 8 weeks."

Herbst said the United States and its allies request to propulsion backmost hard against Russia since appeasement did not enactment successful the past erstwhile Moscow invaded Georgia and Crimea and "suffered astir nary consequences."

The U.S. program present is "reasonable," but not sufficiently active, helium said. "It needs to beryllium stronger and faster, and we request to bash it successful conjunction with our allies."

Possible ramifications

Additionally, Herbst said there's "almost nary accidental of Russia winning" a semipermanent warfare with Ukraine.

That's due to the fact that a ample bulk of Ukrainians "despise the Kremlin" for its aggression and volition combat back. Moscow's subject is overmuch stronger, but successful the agelong run, it volition beryllium hard for Russia to clasp connected to cities it has seized, helium predicted.

Russia's wide geopolitical presumption volition besides worsen if it invades Ukraine, helium added.

"If Russia sends those troops into Ukraine, the chances of Sweden oregon Finland joining NATO spell mode up," helium said, adding that Putin's actions person made NATO rank a "serious question" for the 2 countries.

For now, it's unclear what volition hap next, but Putin sees the menace of a subject struggle arsenic thing that improves Russia's negotiating position, according to Oleg Ignatov, elder expert astatine the International Crisis Group.

It's a bully motion that Russia hasn't withdrawn from talks adjacent though they person not yielded immoderate results, helium said.

"If Russia withdraws, it volition mean war," Ignatov told CNBC's "Capital Connection" connected Monday. "To proceed negotiations is the champion solution that is imaginable close now," helium said.