A superpower battle is brewing over Ukraine as President Obama warned Russia to back off yesterday as it assembled troops in the region in a showdown global security experts fear could fuel the unrest and result in a new Cold War.
“It could very easily lead to a bigger conflict, and that is something we truly want to avoid,” said Cedric Leighton, a retired Air Force veteran who held top posts at the NSA and Pentagon. “It certainly looks and feels a lot like the Cold War.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest move into Crimea, a heavily Russian region of Ukraine, is not as significant for the U.S. as it would be if Russians invaded other parts of the country, Leighton said, comparing a possible Russian invasion into Western Ukraine to Hitler’s march through Europe.
“It’s frighteningly parallel,” he said. “That is what should be keeping people up at night. It could easily lead to a bigger conflict.”
Others say Putin is emboldened coming off the close of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“The Russians aren’t listening very carefully, and Putin, having greater control coming out of the Olympic Games, is not viewing us as a particularly worrisome threat,” said professor William C. Martel of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “We’re going through the motions making diplomatic threats.”
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