Ukrainians should inspect the convoy of nearly 300 trucks Russia is sending to eastern Ukraine in what Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling a humanitarian mission, Steven Bucci told Newsmax TV
's "America's Forum" on Thursday.
"I would be very suspicious of the Russians. They haven't proven themselves to be particularly trustworthy, with regard to their actions in Ukraine," said Bucci, a national security policy director at The Heritage Foundation. "If I could not search and inspect every one of those trucks, I wouldn't let them in. I understand that's politically a tough position to put Ukraine in, but I'd be a little suspicious to what might be underneath all that food and medical stuff."
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Ukrainians had been successful in maintaining control in eastern Ukraine without sparking an escalation in hostility, even though there had been months of tension as 45,000 Russian troops massed along their border, Bucci explained. Putin's intent in Ukraine has not been defined following Russia's takeover of Crimea in March.
"It appears that (Ukrainians) are much more in control than they have been since this whole thing started. They've moved in. They've surrounded several of these dissident areas, and are trying, without getting overly heavy-handed, trying to defuse the situation," Bucci said.
Sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe had put "a little pressure on Mr. Putin," and had succeeded in deterring the Russian president from "pushing back real hard on Ukraine."
"Hopefully, we're moving in the right direction. We can defuse this situation and return the area to peace, and not keep teetering on the brink," he said.
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