Russia’s annexation of Crimea and increased military movement has the region on alert for what President Vladimir Putin could do next.
In an interview with Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland, former president of the Republic of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili weighed in on Russia’s move this week. Saakashvili went head-to-head with Putin over his country’s breakaway provinces in 2008.
He recently traveled to Ukraine and met with anti-government protestors before the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych.
Saakashvili predicts Moscow is looking beyond Ukraine and figuring out which country to target next.
“Moldova is the next vulnerable spot,” Saakashvili said. “He [Putin] really wants to cripple any country that emerges as a new democracy.”
He added, “Georgia is a democracy and Ukraine has a strong chance of being a full-fledged European democracy … [Putin] just doesn’t want to be surrounded by democracies.”
Saakashvili, who interacted with Putin while as president, said the Russian president “had plans.” He explained how Moscow had plans for military operations in Ukraine possibly as far back as 2008. Putin even went as far as calling Ukraine a “territory.”
“Putin wants to be like the Soviet Union, he wants it back,” Saakashvili said. “He wants to rule like Stalin but live like the Rockefellers.”
Saakashvili says the U.S. and European Union need to threaten tougher sanctions against Moscow.
“Real sanctions mean where [they’re] not only [imposed] on 10, 20 but 1,000s and 1,000s of Russian officials and people linked to the government,” said Saakashvili. “These people should be shut out of U.S. banks and their [property] too.”
Watch the full interview above.
Chris Snyder is a producer for Fox News based in New York. Follow him on twitter: @ChrisSnyderFox.