Former NATO Ambassador on Russia invading Ukraine

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has started. We talked with Kurt Volker, a former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and a former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, about the invasion.

What is the latest on the Russian Attacks?

Volker: “It’s a tough day for Ukraine, Russia invaded overnight. They invaded from multiple directions. They used missiles, aircraft, attack helicopters, ground forces, tanks, they through everything at it. Ukrainians have fought back. They are having Russian casualties, there have been Russians captured, there have been tanks disabled, there have been aircraft and helicopters shot down. That being said Russia has the upper hand militarily, and I think these attacks will continue tonight again and I think they are moving closer to Kyev.”

What is the goal of attacking major Ukrainian cities?

Volker thinks Russia’s goal is to dismantle Ukraine’s government, starting with their military. “I think they want to eliminate the Ukrainian government. They want to take control of the country. They want to man Kyev’s external borders, including with Europe, and basically impose a  Russia friendly regime.”

Why is Putin trying to impose a Russia friendly regime now after all these years?

There was an agreement in 1994 that said Russia was supposed to respect Ukrainian’s borders. Volker: “There are so many agreements that Russia has made and violated.” Volker says that Putin is the driving force behind the decision to invade Ukraine, and is not being pressured. “Putin believes he is on a historic mission to rebuild a Russian empire on the territory of the former Soviet Union. If you look at what he had done, he has taken over Belarus, put his forces there, controls the security apparatus, media, effectively controls the government. He has taken pieces of Georgia, he has taken pieces of Moldova, he has taken Crimea and Eastern Ukraine already and now he is going for the rest of Ukraine.” This year is the hundredth anniversary of the Soviet Union, and Volker says that Putin wants to “avenge” that. Volker says that Putin believe he saw Ukraine getting stronger and drifting away from Russia.

Kurt Volker; former U.S. Ambassador to NATO

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