Russia Expert Fiona Hill Explains Why Jan. 6 Was Key Moment For Putin And Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have played out very differently had Donald Trump succeeded in blocking the transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021, says former top National Security Council analyst Fiona Hill.

Russian President Vladimir Putin would have been massively emboldened and “would have probably just driven right into Ukraine himself,” said Hill, an expert on Russian affairs, in an interview with Bloomberg’s Emma Barnett released Friday.

Had former Vice President Mike Pence not blocked Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election result, Putin “would have seen the United States as completely finished from a leadership perspective because we would be no different from any other country in the world that had just had a coup,” explained Hill.

But the attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol was still “a particular moment” that helped inspire the Russian leader to order the military invasion of Ukraine, agreed Hill.

Other motivating factors for the war, which is now in its 73rd day, were Putin’s increased isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic and his belief the West had become “weak and distracted,” she said.

Hill served as an intelligence analyst under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama before joining the NSC under Trump, about whom she testified during his first impeachment.

Last month, she said the U.S. Capitol violence was Trump’s shot at “pulling a Putin.”

“In the course of his presidency, indeed, Trump would come more to resemble Putin in political practice and predilection than he resembled any of his recent American presidential predecessors,” Hill told The New York Times magazine.

Watch the full interview here. Hill’s comments about Putin are at the 9-minute mark:

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