A lack of leadership by the Obama administration and European nations is allowing Vladimir Putin to use Ukraine as an avenue to secure Russia's military interests.
Ret. Lt. Col. Oliver North told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that he does not believe Putin's goal is to "rebuild the Evil Empire" seizing control of the former Soviet states one at a time, but rather to gain essential land access to Russian military facilities in Ukraine.
"The military bases there are essential to [Putin's] access to the Black Sea and ultimately the Mediterranean," North explained. "They've got another naval base in Tartus, Syria that they've pledged to [Bashar] al-Assad that he's going to keep open. Of course that's the base, ostensibly, where the chemical weapons are due to be evacuated from Syria. That is all part of the deal that puts Vladimir Putin back in the driver's seat in the Middle East. What Putin really wants is to protect Russia's borders."
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North contends that the ongoing chaos, particularly in Donetsk and other regions where pro-Russian militants have asserted themselves, is a tactic by Putin to create "the kind of discontent that is going to give a pretext for sending in Russian troops to 'protect the Russian population.'"
"What's been happening – and has been happening since the Olympics were going on, totally missed by our intelligence services, totally missed by the Obama administration – is his plan to expand Russia's sphere of influence," North said, "to establish hegemony over the areas he needs in order to protect his military bases in the Ukraine."
The best scenario for Putin, according to North, would be for a "diplomatic solution" to resolve the situation, namely for "Ukraine to concede essentially what is eastern and southern Ukraine to Russian control."
Based on what little meaningful action has been taken thus far, North said he has little faith that Western allies will be able to stop Putin from achieving that ultimate goal.
"Theoretically, the United Nations and the NATO leaders and the EU leaders are all going to get together and say, 'Boy if you cross this red line, this line in the sand, we're going to do some really tough stuff to you.' I don’t believe it," North said. "I don’t believe it because there is no leadership coming out of Washington on this. Washington has refused to provide military assistance of any meaningful kind at all to the Ukrainians.
"They missed the opportunity, in fact rebuffed the opportunity, to give Ukraine a fast track to get into NATO back in 2009 during the so-called reset. What you are seeing is a continuing pandering to Vladimir Putin by Washington and the Europeans, which are absolutely desperate for hydrocarbon fuel, both oil and natural gas, coming out of Russia."
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