April 26th, 2014
12:30 PM ET

Donilon: Russia likely 'engaged in a destabilization effort'

Fareed speaks with former U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Do you believe that Vladimir Putin really could actually, in some way, invade Eastern Ukraine at some point?

Well, the situation in Eastern Ukraine right now is quite volatile, and it's difficult to predict – even from Putin's perspective – as to where this is going to go.

What I do think is happening is this: I think that the Russian government, led by Putin, is engaged in a destabilization effort, currently, in Ukraine. I think that the Russian view here is that a destabilized Ukraine is superior to a stable, successful Ukraine that's oriented to the West. And I think you'll see them continue to use the leverage that they have to try to destabilize the situation.

And I think the job of the United States and the West is support, politically and economically, the Ukrainian government, to have the elections take place in May and to move forward and to build a successful Ukraine. A difficult task given the fact that I think that Putin and his team and the Russians are engaged in an express effort to destabilize, through a variety of covert operations

Anything about this surprise you? You spent a lot of time with President Putin, to then hear him say, you know, bald-faced, there were no Russian troops involved, I don't know who these guys with black masks are?

I think it is unusual for a leader of a country to engage in bald-faced lying. I think it's an unusual thing to do, frankly. And it really does obviously hurt his credibility. And I think that's one of the reasons that you've had some of the surprising tough reactions you've had from Europe, for example.

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Topics: GPS Show • Russia • Ukraine

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    Why talk about the Russians "destabilizing" Ukraine? We Americans have been destabilizing world governments world governments for decades on end. Look at what happened in Chile in 1973 and even more ignominious is what we did in Iran in 1953. Then there was South Vietnam in 1963, the Congo in 1960, Indonesia in 1965, Guatemala in 1954 and the list goes on and on and...............!

    April 26, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
    • banasy©

      Yes, it sounds as of you're very unhappy with the US. You should consider moving out of the US before you suffer from apoplexy. Nobody wants that.

      April 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        No banasy, I'm just stating the facts. The U.S. is not the God sent, that many Americans such as yourself may think.

        April 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
      • banasy©

        I don't think you are the same JM I addressed above. You have the same patterned avatar as the crazy pizza troll guy.
        But while you're here, explain this:

        "The U.S. is not the God sent,(?) that many Americans such as yourself may think."

        Wow. Don't know how you possibly could have divined all that from a sincere wish not to see someone stroke out. You should Patton that. You could make some serious coin.

        April 26, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
    • Ken

      @Joseph. McCarthy. Difference is we targeted oppressive countries with evil dictators. Russia is doing it to a limping and hurt land of free people that are pro-western.
      You may want to read up on your history, Bozo.

      April 28, 2014 at 8:01 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        That I did, Ken. It appears that people like you need to study history more. Besides, is Vladimir Putin any more "evil" than Barack Obama? Of course not! It's Barack Obama who having people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen slaughtered by the use of those ungodly drones and Apache helicopters, not Vladimir Putin. Enough said.

        April 28, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  2. derss

    "Donilon: Russia likely 'engaged in a destabilization effort'"

    ORWELLIAN PROPAGANDA. Neocon maniacs like Victoria Nuland (DepOfState deputy) were engaged in destabilization of Ukraine by co-managing bloody coup d'etat against democratically elected authorities of Ukraine - all with support by only minority of Ukrainians (as of latest reliable poll from November). Junta with neo-Nazi controlling security, army and general attorney office issued new and new attack orders against rebels is ruling there. NONE of killed in recent days are "Russian military", despite media brainwashing on the issue. Protesters have the right to take power from illegal junta.

    April 26, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  3. Matthew Slater

    Ukraine is just the latest country the US has played an active role in regime change.
    Disingenuous, Fareed CFR to worry about the Russians after Libya, Venezuela, , Egypt, Iraq Serbia, Kosovo, etc etc and failed attempts in Iran & Syria.
    When was the last time Russia did anything like that?

    April 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Never, Matthew. This is just more right-wing government propaganda that the right-wing thugs in Washington want us to believe. Never mind all the damage that the C.I.A. did all around the world!

      April 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Although Matthew, I have been seen with C.I.A. agents at Cici's pizza, I do prefer a pepperoni pizza from Washington, D.C., Pizza Hut.

        April 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
  4. Joe Stoddart

    A good enough appraisal. Would that we could better predict what Putin will do.

    April 26, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
  5. ✠RZ✠

    Russia's guilty, Europe is guilty, Washington is guilty, Ukrainians are guilty, they're all guilty. They took instabilities, made things unstable, and then destabilized it even further. Ukraine is broke, broken, torn apart fiscally and physically. Another victim in the tug of war. But just wait until the supreme leaders of most every other country get their own fleet of killer drones up in the air. What? You thought America would have the monopoly on these things forever? Think again. Then just imagine opposition groups of the future protesting in someplace like Freedom Square getting droned from both sides.

    April 26, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
    • banasy©

      Somehow, people always forget what goes around comes around. I just try to stay outta the way.
      And the beat goes on...

      April 26, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
      • ✠RZ✠

        Some FYIs,

        Drone maker General Atomics may face layoffs: executive





        April 26, 2014 at 9:35 pm |
      • banasy©

        Wow. Thanks.

        April 26, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        I remember living in the only country that had the atomic bomb.
        I was very proud of that.
        It was comforting to all children to be told that, although another country might "figure out" our secret, it would be many years before anything like that happened.

        April 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
      • banasy©

        It was also comforting to know that schoolchildren hiding under their desks would be safe.

        April 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
  6. The GOP Prayer

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 26, 2014 at 7:54 pm |
  7. mikserg

    It is strange that their is no place for Ukraine in the decision process. For the West and Russians it might be pleasant to play Big Brothers of Ukraine. However, it is the responsibility of Ukrainians to look after their own country, its economy and political stability. What I see from the news, Ukrainian active president and PM believe that they are in charge of WWIII affairs and delegated the rest to the US. I am against any 'help' to Ukraine until Ukrainians start working for the benefit of their country and stop playing good boys in a hope to get a few bucks. No other country will ever be able to destabilise Ukraine if Ukrainians do invite this to happen.

    April 27, 2014 at 2:36 am |
    • ✠RZ✠

      The only thing that might be a bit strange in this case is that the real process of how things are run has surfaced becoming more readily apparent. One way or another everyone must be controlled by money, military, or both. Individual freedom, democracy, self-rule, and sovereignty is not an option here or anywhere for that matter.

      April 27, 2014 at 8:23 am |
  8. Siretman

    What's with all the background noise during the Donillon intervie?

    Doesn't anybody in the studio gear that annoying noise?

    April 27, 2014 at 10:19 am |
  9. {} RZ {}

    And further more, it is the Ukranian people that must suffer with no pepperoni pizza. This is the real travesty.

    April 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
  10. mikserge

    I am inclined to agree with you RZ. The Ukranian people have worked much too hard to be without the service of a pepperoni pizza delivered to their home.

    April 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
  11. The GOP Prayer

    Dear God,
    Let us have olives, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and extra pepperoni added to our pizzas.
    No Ukranians will ever have pepperoni pizza if they invite this to happen.
    Praise the lord and pepperoni pizza.

    April 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
  12. Chris Hudson

    In respect of Ukraine I have heard nothing from Fareed Z or the mainstream media about the historical perspective but have been listening to recent academic commentators who offer an important and significant historical perspective to the current crisis. They cite the well organized ukranian militia that has opposed Yankuvych for several years and who orchestrated and escalated the military overthrow of the Russian leaning government, despite the fact it was recognized as a democratic election and the results supported by Ukranian moderate electors. The "coup" (for that's what it was) upset the precarious balance of interests between the Russian govt and former Ukranian govt. The red flags (no pun intended) had been flying in the face of Europe and the USA for years and proactive measures couldhave been taken to address the issues through political dialogue among all the stakeholders . But all parties strategically evaded the issues. Now we all face a crisis of an international magnitude. This is no sudden crisis. It was a long time coming but no one had the insight or interest to address the issues in a substantive way. I would suggest Fareed explores the historica perspective for the education of his viewers. The mainstream media have spent no air time on the international neglect of Ukraines differences with Russia.

    April 27, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
  13. rupert

    I agree with chris.

    April 27, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
  14. mikserg

    I think that it's up to the American public to send a message to CNN and such journalists as Fareed Zakaria that propaganda must have some limits because of the danger of becoming anti-American. CNN systematically suggests sending hard worked for American tax money as 'help' to Ukraine without letting Americans know that the recipients will be the same bunch of thieves that occupied Ukrainian government and the parliament for the last 20 years. Does any of the readers have any doubts where the buck is going to?
    Further, CNN promote NATO involvement into the crisis and an increase of the defense budget. CNN doesn't tell the audience that the government will either print more money or increase taxes for Americans. I do not care much about the US but the Australian government might follow them.
    Recently, CNN published an article blaming Russians for the FBI and CIA blunders in the Boston bombing. I do not think that Russians are hurt too much and this is not really my point. My point is that by blaming Russia, CNN did a disservice to their country. Firstly, with no blame upon them, FBI and CIA agents will keep sleeping tight in their pajamas at night and going to chit chat to the office in the morning. Secondly, they lost a valuable source of information, Russia in this particular case.
    Overall, I do believe that CNN deserves a good kick for disrespecting and misleading American public. But this is for Americans to decide.

    April 28, 2014 at 3:46 am |
  15. rupert

    @ cnn. You got that kid?

    April 28, 2014 at 5:10 am |
  16. Jose

    International politics cannot be made within a framework of good guys and bad guys. According to such a bizarre view the US wants Ukraine's stability and the triumph of democracy and Russia wants to destabilize that country. Of course the US is the good guy and Russia the bad one.

    If the US's final aim were always the victory of democracy, why it supports, say, the current Egiptian government?
    Zakaria is doing a terrible job at enlightening the common people. Why he does not clarify, for instance, what are the objectives of the US in keeping Ukraine within the embrace of Europe? What are the Russian objectives?.

    Why the policy of "sanctions" is not seen as using the big financial stick by the US for arm twisting, but similar actions by other powers are seen as incorrect practices?

    I believe CNN should be more impartial, less politically aligned with a country even if it is the US or it should stop pretending to be in search of the truth.

    April 28, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
  17. 100 % ETHIO

    The root cause of the current Russian vs the West conflict is jew who got caught Red-Handed by FBI in Cabada, on November 2012. He (jew) was engaged with Russian spy Agent to sell Canada's (American interest), top Current and future Military secrets for only $70,000.00 CAN.

    April 28, 2014 at 11:59 pm |
  18. chrissy

    Omg whats next....a pepperoni war? You sure are fixated on pepperoni...why is that do you think? Lacking something are you ya perpasstroll??

    April 29, 2014 at 10:01 pm |

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