Vladimir Putin's crowning achievement in his military domination of Ukraine has been in boosting the pride of the Russian people, according to retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA.
The Russian president "hasn't restored the economy, he certainly hasn't restored democracy, but he has restored a bit of Russian pride, and that's why he's doing this," Hayden told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"His legitimacy as a ruler comes from that very fact, that he's been able to do that for the Russian people. That's why it was fairly predictable that he would act in the Crimea.
"The Eastern Ukraine's a little different. That's not going to do down easy. That's not going to be bloodless."
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But whether Putin is prepared to keep Russian troops throughout Ukraine is doubtful, he adds.
"The last thing he wants is an occupation of the eastern Ukraine with Russian soldiers coming home in body bags because the Ukrainians have a rich history of attacking their occupiers," Hayden said.
Putin's aggressive actions in the past months have been made possible as a result of the United States' "inattention," Hayden said.
"We've had a lot of focus on Syria, but with regard to Ukraine … the Americans are kind of late to this party," he said.
Hayden is not impressed with a potential deal announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in which Russia will attempt to defuse the crisis — a deal the Russian foreign minister dubbed ''a compromise, of sorts.''
"I'm very skeptical … I don't believe that's just happening out of spontaneous combustion, that's the purposeful action of the Russian federation," he said.
The agreement "probably does no harm, but I don't know that it changes much on the ground, right?
"It might give … the government in Russia a little bit of a fig leaf … but boy, this just bares the fingerprints of how they've been operating."
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