Kyiv Security Forum

Stephen Sestanovich: The war in the east of Ukraine is a huge failure for Putin

12 April 2019, 18:11

Professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs Stephen Sestanovich believes that starting a war in the east of Ukraine was a major mistake for Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. "The war in Eastern Ukraine is a huge loss for Putin. It’s a failure. It’s just a failure. And the question is when will Putin realize it," he said at the 12th Kyiv Security Forum, organized by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation.

Sestanovich noted that at some point it looked like the president of the USA Donald Trump might go into an agreement with Russia, which would have been bad news for Ukraine. But he ended up being too unpredictable to make any type of agreement with.

He added that this unpredictability and Trump’s desire to do everything "not like Obama" played in Ukraine’s favor in regards to the supply of lethal weapons; while the Obama administration never took this step, Trump decided to take it.

During her turn, the president of the US-Russia Foundation Celeste Wallander noted that from Russia’s perspective the war in Eastern Ukraine is an attempt at slowing down the European and Euro-Atlantic movement. "Moscow considers this a tactical success, since from Moscow’s perspective the war stopped Ukraine on its path to Europe. And this was the purpose of the war," she believes.

Wallander emphasized that Russia is trying to use the Donbass and Crimea to influence Ukraine’s foreign policy decisions and advises that Ukraine be very careful with these matters.


The annual Kyiv Security Forum was initiated by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation in 2007. Since then, the Forum has become a platform for high-level, international discussions about relevant matters of national security, as well as the security of the Black Sea region, Europe, and the world.