Former US ambassador to Ukraine warns: Putin will only get worse if his invasion succeeds

Former US ambassador to Ukraine warns: Putin will only get worse if his invasion succeeds

Marie Yovanovitch was in the news a lot in 2019, when the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine became a key witness for the Democratic prosecution in then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment. And Yovanovitch, now 63, has been in the spotlight a lot in March 2022 — not only because of her new book “Lessons from the Edge: A Memoir,” but also, because of Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine. Yovanovitch had a lot to say about the Ukraine/Russia war during an interview with Politico’s Katelyn Fossett, published as a Q&A article on March 16. And she warned that if Russian President Vladimir Putin prevails in Ukraine, he will become even more dangerous.

“We can’t let Putin set the conditions for this war,” Yovanovitch, a native of Montreal, Canada, told Fossett. “Russia is the aggressor. They have invaded a peaceful nation, and that is simply wrong. And what history has shown us is that if we don’t push back, Russia will keep on going. The bottom line is if this fight is our fight.”

President Joe Biden and his European allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have responded to the invasion with tough economic sanctions that are inflicting serious pain on Russia’s economy. However, the Biden Administration and NATO have been adamant in their position that they won’t be putting any “boots on the ground” in Ukraine, and they have turned down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Biden and NATO clearly don’t want to see the United States get into a direct military conflict with Russia, which they believe could be the start of World War 3.

Yovanovitch praised the Biden/NATO response to the conflict, although she believes that “more” needs to be done to help Ukraine.

“I think the Biden Administration is doing a really good job of keeping allies and partners united, working closely with Ukraine and piling on the sanctions,” Yovanovitch told Fossett. “Sanctions generally take a long time to work, but you can see there’s immediate pain in Russian society. It’s very sad for the Russian people, but hopefully, at some point, it will be persuasive to Vladimir Putin. So, I think that’s all good, as well as flowing arms and equipment to Ukraine at hyperspeed…. But I think we still need to do more.”

Yovanovitch continued, “I think we can’t take items off the table. I think we need to look really hard at what kind of defensive systems we can be providing Ukraine. I mean, obviously, Ukraine would love us to join the fight with American boots on the ground. But they have said, ‘If you can’t do that, just give us the equipment, and we will fight this fight and we’ll fight it for you, too, because this is about democracy versus tyranny.’ I think we need to keep on sending in support as quickly as we can, because we’ve seen, over the last day or so, Russia has started to attack the western side of Ukraine.”

Zelensky, according to Yovanovitch, has turned out to be a much stronger leader than Putin anticipated.

“I do think that when Zelensky was elected, that Putin thought that he could run circles around Zelensky — and that turned out not to be true,” Yovanovitch told Fossett. “As Russia squeezed Zelensky a little bit more, Zelensky became much more pro-West than he had been when he entered office, culminating in wanting to join the EU and join NATO. And so, that wasn’t working the way Putin had wanted.”

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