Russian President Vladimir Putin has too much domestic political prestige tied up in bullying Ukraine to back out of his empire-building exercise now, a Russia scholar told Newsmax TV
"What we have to keep in mind is Putin is not retreating from Ukraine," not even after the downing of a passenger jet over territory controlled by his proxy fighters, Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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"He cannot accept a defeat in Ukraine after this half a year of propaganda that … he is protecting Russian sovereignty, Russian co-religionists, ethnic Russians in Ukraine — he cannot move back," said AEI's director of Russian studies and author of several books
on the country's history, politics, and economics.
Putin, if anything, is ramping up
hostilities in the face of global condemnation and Western economic sanctions.
The result is "an increasing movement of … heavier, more sophisticated, more lethal weaponry" from Russia to Ukrainian separatists who are already suspected in the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, said Aron.
The only way Putin will allow a negotiated settlement is if he thinks the separatists are losing so badly to Ukrainian government forces that they have to quit while they can still declare victory and claim some gains, said Aron.
"Of course, he can move regular troops across the border and start a regular war between Russia and Ukraine," said Aron. "I don't think that is his preferable option."
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