Russia is encouraging the ongoing instability in Ukraine and may set its sights on other European and Asian nations as it seeks to exert its growing global influence, says former House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra.
"The Russians clearly are involved in fomenting the unrest in the Ukraine," Hoekstra told John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Thursday on Newsmax TV.
"You've got a population that is receptive to the message that Russia and Putin ... are delivering. You've got a dysfunctional government running Ukraine. You put that all together and it's a very good mix of politics and policy for Russia and for Putin."
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The United States and Europe have struggled to contain the ambitions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and on Wednesday NATO's top military commander in Europe said American troops could be deployed to member states at risk, according to The Associated Press.
Political strategist Dick Morris said that could set the stage for another Cold War.
"That would activate the whole tripwire philosophy of the Cold War, which is we put our troops there on the front line not because we thought it could hold back a Russian attack, but because Russia would know that if they attacked, it would mean nuclear war because they'd be killing American soldiers," Morris said.
Hoekstra said that the United States and Europe have been powerless to stand up to Russia because of Europe's dependence on Russia's natural gas. The best way to undermine Russia, Morris said, is for the United States to step up its production of the valuable fuel source and supply it to its allies. Putin likely understands this, so is trying to maximize his power while he still can, Morris said.
"So Putin knows that his days are numbered and … is playing the losing hand here, but he's playing it very aggressively in the hopes that he can break up NATO before Russia's power really dims," Morris said.
In trying to maximize that hand, he could look to destabilize and possibly annex territories in Baltic states such as Estonia and Lithuania, in Eastern European nations like Azerbaijan and Moldova, and in Central Asian nations like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
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