Russian President Vladimir Putin does a “good job” confusing the West, as evidenced most recently by the leader’s denial that his country is firing rockets into Ukraine, according to one former top CIA spy.
Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to Jack Devine about U.S. strategy against Russia. Devine is a 32-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, along with being president of The Arkin Group, an international risk consulting and intelligence firm.
He says so far Putin’s regional strategy is working in Russia’s favor.
“Plausible denial does not mean credible denial, so he’s doing all the things that could have been anticipated. He is using agents of influence, using psychological warfare, and he is providing military support and denying it,” Devine told FoxNews.com.
Devine sees Putin’s playbook similar to how the Soviet Union dealt with crises. “If you look back in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, it was pretty much the same approach.”
Critics, including Devine, say the U.S. needs to expand its approach to the conflict.
“I’m advocating not only do we use diplomacy, we use covert action, we make sure we are using agents of influence and that we provide the support,” said Devine. “I agree no troops on the ground, but he [Putin] is really playing a hardball kind of game and we should match that.”
There are concerns that supporting Ukraine’s military is a risk, with possible Russian informants embedded with the Ukrainians. Devine dismissed this.
“The best way to know what is going on and [to] deal with things is to get in there and do it covertly.”
While the U.S. is hoping to garner European support to pressure Russia, Devine says, “by and large we are going to have to carry the burden of covert action as we always have.”
He warns that the possibility of further sanctions won’t change Putin’s position.
“I think he is sticking to his game plan -- he doesn’t want to take the whole Ukraine; he knows that is not within his grasp because otherwise you’re going to have an insurgency of a different type.”
Devine, author of “Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story,” added, “Putin is in a fairly good position, so that’s why we shouldn’t let him run or we will end up with a neutral Ukraine which is not in our interests.”