Why Russia may end its ‘unstable ceasefire’ with Ukraine, and how U.S. politics affects it


John Yang:

Judy, U.S. officials are closely watching that Russian military buildup.

Today, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley spoke with his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov. The region has been a flash point since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and supported separatists in two provinces of Eastern Ukraine.

Since then, there’s been fighting between those separatists and the Ukrainian army, and more than $2.5 billion in U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. Now there are reportedly more than 100,000 Russian troops along much of Ukraine’s Northern and Eastern borders.

Andrew Weiss worked on Russian affairs in both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations. He is now vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Mr. Weiss, thanks so much for joining us.

What is Vladimir Putin up to, and why is he doing it now?

Andrew Weiss, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Ukraine is the single most importance piece of unfinished business in Vladimir Putin’s more than two decades as Russia’s leader.

He is the Russian leader who bears, I think, the ignominious distinction of being a person who’s lost Ukraine twice. He lost it in 2014. He lost it in 2004. And he’s sending a message right now, which I think no one should underestimate, that he is thinking about undoing the unstable cease-fire that’s been in place since the war in 2014 and 2015 was at its bloodiest.

And he seems to smell an opportunity, when the West is divided, when the Biden administration has other priorities, and when Russia has overwhelming military superiority.