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Michael McFaul: Heroic and ferocious Ukrainian military may save Kyiv

Michael McFaul
White House
"President Barack Obama meets with Mike McFaul, former United States ambassador to Russia, in the Oval Office on June 10, 2016."

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

Augustana University and the Center for Western Studies are presenting the 25th Boe Forum on Public Affairs this week. This year's lecture explores Russia and the future of Europe.

Michael McFaul is a political scientist, the former ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012 - 2014), and this year's Boe Forum speaker.

McFaul says recent Russian troop movements away from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv could indicate regrouping ahead of a full-scale assault on the city. Or, it could be something else.

“Putin is not making some magnanimous decision to withdraw to start peace negotiations," McFaul says. "His soldiers are retreating because they are losing to Ukrainian forces. They’re not choosing to retreat. They’re being forced to retreat. That, I think, is some good news in terms of the heroic, ferocious fighting we’ve seen from the Ukrainian military in this war so far.”

McFaul says President Putin views Russian military aggression for the past two decades in places like Chechnya, Syria, Georgia, and Crimea as successes.

“The bad news is that on another front, in the south, in a city called Mariupol in particular, there you see where Putin is really concentrating his forces.

"He’s trying to take that city and connect the territory that he annexed in 2014 — Crimea — with the territory where he’s been backing separatists for several years — in the Donbas (region) —  and, tragically, I think, that city will eventually fall to the Russians.”

Recent peace talks between the Ukrainian and Russian governments were inconclusive. The war in Europe has now gone on for more than a month.

The Boe Forum for Public Affairs is scheduled for March 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the Elmen Center (on the campus of Augustana University) in Sioux Falls.