'Be very careful about the rhetoric': Fiona Hill explores Russia's possible endgame in Ukraine

'Be very careful about the rhetoric': Fiona Hill explores Russia's possible endgame in Ukraine
Dr. Fiona Hill, CNN Screengrab

Fiona Hill explained the most likely scenarios for the end of the Russian war against Ukraine, and she doesn't think any of them will be good.

The foreign policy adviser and Russia expert told New York Times columnist Ezra Klein that Vladimir Putin remains in control of the situation, and he would likely remain in control of how and when the conflict would end -- and he won't accept defeat.

"A lot of this depends on -- a deep sigh there -- on how we respond," Hill said. "We have to be extraordinarily careful given the dangers that we already outlined. We are dealing with somebody, in the form of Vladimir Putin, who sees himself as all tied up with the Russian state. He cannot lose, so we have to kind of figure out about how to formulate something that deals with that and the fact that he's likely to react strongly, badly to any perceived intervention on the part of NATO, of NATO forces, painting the Russians into a corner."

"Discussions of economic warfare, we have to tamp all of this down and really focus on getting Russia out of Ukraine, focusing on ceasefires, focusing on withdrawals of Russian men and equipment, you know, heavy artillery, these barbaric, high-end weapon systems that they're bringing in there, trying to head off these cruise missiles, these ballistic missiles," Hill added. "We've got to focus on these things and be very careful about the rhetoric."

Hill said she's reluctant to outline these scenarios with much detail because she's afraid those discussions could become self-fulfilling prophecies.

"The only scenario that is really going to work is one in which Russia pulls out of Ukraine but we find some kind of mechanism to make Putin feel like he's gotten something out of this," she said.

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