The former economic policy adviser to Vladimir Putin says the Russian president will continue his military push into Ukraine until the U.S. and other Western nations get serious about stopping him.
"It depends how far Ukrainians and the West and the whole world would allow him to go. His intention is to go as far as possible," Andrei Illarionov said of Putin to "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"If you'd like really to stop tanks, you need to have another tank, that's pretty clear," Illarionov said. "For the moment, President [Barack] Obama, Western leaders, NATO and even until recently Ukrainian government, were not ready … to use any resistance to the military action of the Russian troops."
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Only the concerted efforts of Democratic countries to demonstrate their readiness to use military force, will make Putin blink, Illarionov believes.
"[Then] there is a possibility to stop further incursions of military forces from the Putin's Russia," he said.
Illarionov, now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, said Russia's recent ouster from the influential Group of Eight forum of eight leading industrialized countries means little to Putin.
"It's painful, it's not pleasant, but it would not reverse actions that have been already done in Crimea and in Ukraine," he said. "They would need to repeat what President George Bush did in the year 2008 during Russian-Georgian war, during Russian aggression in Georgia … Bush immediately sent U.S. troops, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy into the region and it helped to stop Russian advance into Tbilisi."
A similar course of action from Obama could have prevented the Russia's annexation of Crimea, Illarionov said.
"It would lead to several days of high tension, it would definitely not lead to the war, but it would keep Crimea within Ukrainian territory and it would substantially lower the risk of the overall military conflict," he said.
Illarionov believes Obama should "do everything possible" to give bolster Ukraine security.
"For that purpose, I would strongly recommend to deliver all necessary aid, including military aid, if Ukraine government would ask U.S. and NATO to help them," he said.
Ukraine went through weeks of severe political turmoil, including street riots that ultimately the forced resignation of then-president Viktor Yanukovych, preceding Russia's invasion of Crimea. The continuing instability leaves Ukraine vulnerable to further attacks, Illarionov said.
"It is necessary to strengthen political situation in Ukraine because right now, Putin's forces are trying to destabilize the situation in the south and east of Ukraine, trying to create a situation of civil war in those regions," he said. "That would allow them to create so-called situation of chaos, of disorder, and to claim that because of the presidential election on May 25 is going to be canceled, all [of that could] lead to imposition of [a] puppet [government]… that would be pro-Putin."
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