This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 18, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton joins us. Good evening, sir.
JOHN BOLTON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Good evening.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, this protest has been going on for several months. It has obviously escalated immensely in the last 24 or so hours. What is the origin of this protest?
BOLTON: It's a fundamental question that goes back over 20 years to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Will Ukraine and the other former Soviet republics be truly independent? Will they be allowed to drift in the direction I think the people clearly want to go into, which is toward the West, toward NATO, the European Union? Or will, particularly under Vladimir Putin, Russia succeed in reestablishing hegemony within the space of the former Soviet Union. That's been the question for 20 years. We may now be seeing, unfortunately, the dispositive moment which is that the pro- Russian faction has used force here 15 to 20 dead just today. This may be the real climatic moment.
VAN SUSTEREN: With the -- with the exception of the fact that's why a 1,000 miles away from where the Olympics are going on and also the fact that the Americans have big hearts and don't want to see people die and these fires destroying beautiful buildings, why should people in the United States care about this?
BOLTON: Well, there is a huge strategic issue at stake here. Ukraine is a big country. If Russia under Putin can reestablish hegemony over Ukraine I think the faith of the other Soviet republics won't far behind. So, from the perspective of whether we are going to find ourselves in great power rivalry with Russia in many respects we already are, we have a lot riding on this. We cannot count as we have seen over the past year or so, we cannot count on the European Union doing anything effective to stop the Russians from reestablishing their influence. You know, we are in a situation, this is not just Ukraine. We've got riots and demonstrations in Caracas and Venezuela. Friends of the United States in effect, friends of liberty but friends of ours are out there trying to prevent their government from succumbing to autocracy and the US government is effectively silent and inactive.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we see so much of Putin lately, you know in fact -- I think he has bloodied our nose with regard to Iran and Syria. He is reasserting himself. Now, this seems another sort of reassertion this problem is getting us catastrophic there and I know that Putin is offering a lot of money and help to Ukraine government. Is this really sort of -- could this be a huge turning point in history?
BOLTON: Well, I think it could be. I think particularly in Ukraine and I think the rest follows. What we have got in Putin is a man with a strategic vision and an autocratic mentality, in Obama we've got a weak, inattentive president who doesn't, not only doesn't know what America's interests are. I don't think particularly cares about American national security. He's devoted to transforming America domestically. We can see this all over the world. American influence slipping, slipping away in Ukraine and Venezuela and in the Middle East and we will pay the price of this for a long time unless people speak up.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir. Always nice to talk to you.
BOLTON: Thank you, Greta.