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Putin’s ambitions are bigger than Ukraine, says Fiona Hill: ‘He wants to evict the United States from Europe’

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Robert Schroeder

In the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes are on a bigger prize, a top expert on Putin and his country says.

“This time,” writes former intelligence officer Fiona Hill in a New York Times op-ed , “Mr. Putin’s aim is bigger than closing NATO’s ‘open door’ to Ukraine and taking more territory — he wants to evict the United States from Europe. As he might put it: ‘Goodbye America. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.’ ”

Barron’s: Vladimir Putin senses weakness

Hill, who was a top adviser to President Donald Trump on Russia — and gave testimony against him during his first impeachment — writes that Putin wants the U.S. to “suffer” in a way similar to that in which Russia did in the 1990s, when NATO and the U.S. forced Russia to withdraw the remnants of the Soviet military from bases in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Hill’s op-ed comes as the New York Times is reporting that Biden is considering deploying several thousand troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO countries in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. Such an expansion of U.S. military capability would come as fear mounts of a further Russian incursion into Ukraine, having previously annexed the Crimean peninsula and backed pro-Kremlin separatists in the country’s east.

See: U.S. could send troops to Eastern Europe amid Ukraine standoff with Russia: report

Opinion: Putin is lying — Western sanctions have been hurting Russia’s economy

On Monday, the White House said Biden would hold a secure video call with European leaders “as part of our close consultation and coordination with our Transatlantic Allies and partners in response to Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders.” Among the leaders Biden is scheduled to speak with are European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Andrzej Duda of Poland.

See: How a Russian invasion of Ukraine could trigger market shock waves

The White House is also threatening to use a novel export control to damage strategic Russian industries, from artificial intelligence and quantum computing to civilian aerospace, if Moscow invades Ukraine, according to Washington Post reporting .

On Monday, Russian stocks crashed and the ruble /zigman2/quotes/210561610/realtime/sampled RUBUSD -0.8205% sank to its lowest level in more than a year, as investors feared the triggering of sanctions if the country mounts a new Ukraine invasion .

With Putin playing what Hill calls a “longer, strategic game,” the Russian leader “has the United States right where he wants it,” she writes.

“Forging a united front with its European allies and rallying broader support should be America’s longer game,” Hill writes. “Otherwise this saga could indeed mark the beginning of the end of America’s military presence in Europe.”

Opinion (April 2020):   Putin could have another 16 years as president to re-establish Russia as a great power in the world

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