Mearsheimer added that the Kremlin and Russia must create a sovereign state in Ukraine that serves as a buffer between the East and West.
According to Mearsheimer, efforts to resolve the crisis are being slowed by a lingering Cold War mentality in Washington. He described American leaders as being stuck in 1948 and said they fear Russia’s rise as a “second coming of the Soviet Union.”
The panelists disagreed on the question of whether Putin has handled the situation more effectively. Fish said that Ukraine will end up being a major blunder for Putin.
“In terms of foreign policy, this move buries his dream of a Eurasian Union,” Fish said. “And it now guarantees the implacable hostility of what’s left of Ukraine after Putin gets done with the southern and eastern parts of it.”
But, Mearsheimer contends that Putin’s foreign policy has actually been quite effective in furthering Russia’s goals.
“I think President Putin has played his hand brilliantly,” the professor said. “I think that he is deeply interested in making sure that Ukraine never becomes part of NATO and furthermore that any government in Kiev is not decidedly anti-Russian.”