UT Professor Jeremi Suri: ‘The Best Way to Think of Putin is Mussolini’

By Rhonda FanningApril 24, 2014 9:54 pm

U.S. troops began joint military exercises in Poland this week, in response to Russia’s continued incursion into Ukraine. The Pentagon says troops will also be deployed to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday as a show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. As he met with the nation’s leaders he called on Russia to “stop talking and start acting” to defuse the crisis.

So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Kiev that any attack on Russians in Ukraine would be considered an attack on Russia.

So what is next for Ukraine? Are diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation failing? What about sanctions?

Texas Standard host David Brown spoke with Jeremi Suri, professor at UT-Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the Department of History on what could be next.

UT Professor Jeremi Suri talks with The Texas Standard.

[/media-credit] UT Professor Jeremi Suri talks with The Texas Standard.

“My prediction is that we’ll see more Russian aggression, not less, in Eastern Ukraine,” Suri says. “There will be a call from our allies, Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic – countries that have reason to fear – will be calling for more … American military action in the region. We should expect to see that.”

Suri also placed Putin in a historical context.

“The best way to think of Vladimir Putin is Benito Mussolini,” Suri says. “This is the leader of a state who has made himself into a dictator, popular at home, by thumping his chest and flexing his muscles. This is a society with an economy that’s going in the wrong direction, and the way he builds support at home is by expanding around him.”

“He does not have an aim for world domination as Hitler did, and he does not want to challenge the United States in all corners of the globe as the Soviet Union did,” Suri continues. “He wants to be the dominant force in Eastern and Central Europe. We can’t let that [happen] because we have too many of our own economic interests, and too many allies of our own in the region.”

Listen to the interview in the Soundcloud player above.