Russian affairs expert Fiona Hill said there is one group of people in particular that Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably has to worry about” more than anyone else if his invasion of Ukraine doesn’t go as planned. It’s not Russia’s obscenely rich oligarchs, who face economic sanctions and seizures of their assets worldwide, the former top analyst on the National Security Council told Stephen Colbert on Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Late Show.”
Instead, it’s the “very small circle” — such as Russia’s heads of intelligence, military and security services — who cooked up the invasion plan with Putin, said Hill.
“These are not the kind of guys who have yachts off Monaco, palaces in Paris or anything like this,” Hill explained. “These are people who are very much rooted in Russia itself and I don’t think they’re too worried about all of these sanctions and everything that’s cut off, because they’re not invested in the West. They’ve really got that bunker siege mentality — fortress Russia.” Members of this small circle are who Putin “probably does have to worry about” if “it looks like Russia is losing,” said Hill, an intelligence analyst under former President George W. Bush and Barack Obama who later served on the National Security Council under Donald Trump. Hill was an important witness during Trump’s first impeachment.
“I don’t think they care about the world of public opinion,” Hill added. “But if there’s not any movement on the ground, if that great convoy of tanks just basically runs out of gas and is just left there, and if they have to kind of lay waste to Ukraine to basically get a success … you might then start to get a backlash from those people who are thinking this has not gone as they intended.”