Russia’s aim is a change of power in Ukraine, and as long as the West is not willing to use military force, Russian President Vladimir Putin will determine further developments, said security expert Eerik-Niiles Kross.
Kross told ETV on Monday that war is already underway, because the West erroneously distinguishes between Ukraine and Crimea, and according to international law, even threatening with force constitutes aggression.
He said Russia will try to annex Crimea by Friday, and having recognized the peninsula’s independence, the Kremlin will “find a legal trick for splitting Ukraine.”
Russia clearly wants to achieve a change of government in Kiev, exerting pressure to make the cabinet fall or force the West to agree to a new way of governing in Ukraine.
Kross said Russia is using “salami tactics” - should the current government withstand the pressure, Russia could start organizing new seperatist referendums in various parts of Ukraine and “the crisis could escalate into quite a large war”.
“The trouble is that Russia is playing the game of force and the West is playing the game of diplomacy," said Kross, who is also the Vice-Chairman of IRL. "These categories are actually so different that it is difficult to find an agreement, and it is Putin and his inner circle that decide how far they’ll go.
“We actually have a completely new reality in security policy. We’re at the start of a new era where we’ll end up with a different Europe or a different Russia,” he said.