Stengel, Brzezinski Urge Putin to Stay Out of Ukraine

Friday, 28 Feb 2014 10:44 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Russia's military exercises along Ukraine's border resemble the Soviet Union's behavior during the Cold War, Rick Stengel, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, said Friday.

"Unfortunately, it seems like Russia is looking at that old Cold War paradigm, which we have long past," Stengel told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "The saber rattling doesn't help anybody, and makes everybody a little nervous."

Story continues below video.

Tensions have mounted as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered 150,000 troops to conduct military exercises along Ukraine's border after the uprising that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Putin Wednesday it would be a "grave mistake" for Russia to intervene in Ukraine's affairs.

The Obama administration's goal is to leave it to the Ukrainian people to "decide their own destiny," while offering financial assistance, Stengel said. He said the situation was "complex," and was "getting more complex by the day."

"It's not just a pure, happy story. So, I think we have to see. I think the West has to help. America has to help. And, I don't know what the timeline is," Stengel said.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, suggested there was "some confusion in Moscow." He said Putin's strategy appeared awkward, and thought there was "something fundamentally involved" with the Russian troop movement.

"I imagine there's probably a lot of disagreement among [Russia's] top leaders. And, Putin may be showing himself to be more clumsy than we would have assumed," Brzezinski said Friday, also appearing on "Morning Joe."

Brzezinski warned that Putin could lose the support of the Ukrainians if he chose a hard line approach, as they seek to chart their future.

"If Russia plays it roughly, if Russia does some really extreme things, such as, for example, seizure of Crimea, then Russia may end up having Crimea, but will forever lose Ukraine. Because, the Ukrainian people are very territorial. They have a sense of their land, and they will never forgive Russia for this," Brzezinski said.

The United States needed to be "patient" and "persistent" as Ukraine plotted its future, he explained, and send the message to the Russians that "we're not trying to turn against you."

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