By stepping up its military presence along the Ukrainian border, Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that Ukraine and the West will make concessions and Ukraine will realign itself back to Moscow, says Steven Pifer.
But nothing has alienated Ukraine more than Kremlin policy over the past eight years, particularly Russia’s military seizure of Crimea in 2014 and its role in the Donbas conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives, he says.
Pifer is a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). His research focuses on nuclear arms control, Ukraine, Russia, and European security. Pifer spent more than 25 years working with the US State Department, where he focused on America’s relations with the former Soviet Union and Europe, as well as arms control and security issues.
He served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibilities for Russia and Ukraine (2001-2004), ambassador to Ukraine (1998-2000), and special assistant to the president and senior director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia on the National Security Council (1996-1997).
Here, Pifer discusses what Putin hopes to accomplish by amassing military troops along the Ukrainian border and why Ukraine’s democratic ambitions pose such a threat to Russia’s authoritarian leader:
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