While the U.S. "miscalculated" the strength of the Russian military, Vladimir Putin is dangerously close to being able to say he has achieved his "objectives" in Ukraine, according to former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
"The situation in Ukraine is getting worse," Bolton told Sunday's "The Cats Roundtable" on WABC 770 AM-N.Y. "Russia has begun to make more progress more rapidly than before. All of the advanced weapons systems that we've heard the U.S. and others have promised are not really getting [to Ukraine] as fast as people might want.
"I'm now worried that Putin is closer to the point where he can say he has achieved his objectives. And that would be a very serious situation. Zelenskyy has now confirmed that Russia holds about 20% of Ukraine's territory
"It's a bad time for the Ukrainians, as attention and support in the United States declines, that makes it even more dangerous for them."
While the United States was aware of Putin's designs to reconstitute the old Soviet Union by returning Ukraine to Russia's sphere of influence, Bolton told host John Catsimatidis that awareness was not fully realized until now.
"All of us collectively underestimated how strongly, not just Putin, but many, many Russians, certain many of his top advisers, how strongly they felt that Ukraine and Belarus and other parts of the former Soviet Union were ripped away from Russia, and that it was illegitimate and unfair to Russia," Bolton said. "And to make Russia whole again he wants Ukraine back. He wants Belarus back. And a few other things. In his cost-benefit formula, Ukraine was a lot more important to him than the rest of us really fully appreciated."
Putin was so motivated he was willing to take on the isolation of the rest of the world, Bolton continued.
"Putin's ostracism from the international community, certainly the human cost to the Russian military, the horrible damage that's being done in the Ukraine — to Putin, these costs are not as they appear to us," Bolton said. "He minimizes them because of how high in importance it is getting as much as Ukraine as he can get. That is what is motivating him."
U.S. intelligence has proved to have failed in accurately projecting Russia's military power, though, according to Bolton.
"We should also acknowledge that our intelligence services miscalculated, too," he said. "They were briefing Congress in the first days of the war that the Russians would take Kyiv in 48 or 72 hours, and they'd take the country in a week or two. Our intelligence got it badly wrong."
"They overestimated Russia's capabilities – so did Russia."
And, Putin has ultimately strengthened the NATO alliance, leading to Finland and Sweden's move toward it, Bolton concluded.
"The one thing nobody anticipated is that you've got both Finland and Sweden now applying for NATO membership," Bolton said. "This is a huge development. It's very positive for NATO. Very negative for Russia. I don't think Putin calculated that this was going to happen."
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