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John Bolton: Putin has ‘incentive’ to drag out Ukraine crisis

Former national security adviser John Bolton said Russian President Vladimir Putin could be dragging out the Ukraine crisis in a campaign of “classic brinkmanship” and warned the European leader could win control of the country without sparking a large-scale conflict or invasion.

In an interview with John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM, Bolton said Putin could invade Ukraine, but it “depends on how successful he is diplomatically in achieving his larger strategic interests.”

“The Russians are playing a very agile, diplomatic game,” Bolton said on Sunday, “which primarily centers on fracturing NATO.”

Concerns of a potential invasion of Ukraine have mounted for months amid a steady Russian military buildup at the border. The Russian military has amassed about 190,000 troops at the border, and there have been reports of violence in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists are fighting the Ukrainian military. 

On Friday, President Biden said he was “convinced” Putin had decided to invade Ukraine, and at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned of “painful” sanctions on Russia in the event of an invasion.

Bolton, who served under former presidents Trump and George W. Bush, said the world should not let its guard down; however, Putin could be attempting to get Ukraine “for free” through aggression and high-stakes negotiations.

“I worry the administration is so consumed by the reaction to its catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, that it’s overhyping the imminence of the potential attack,” he said. “There’s a ‘boy who cried wolf’ phenomenon that’s at risk here.”

The former national security adviser explained Putin has the upper hand in the situation, with all the “momentum and the initiative” on his side. But he argued NATO and the U.S. should “up the ante” and place pressure on Putin immediately to stop the invasion, including by canceling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, an energy project Russia is working on with Germany.

“We should have been doing this weeks ago,” Bolton said. “We’ve got to increase the pressure on Russia now, not simply the threat of pressure later if he invades.”

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden John Bolton Nancy Pelosi Ukraine-Russia conflict Vladimir Putin

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