“Just in the thinking of the Kremlin and Putin in particular, Ukraine belongs to Russia,” Hill said. “So by any kind of means … Russia intends to make sure that Ukraine is completely and utterly surrounded and constricted in every possible way. So it is entirely possible that Russia will choose to invade.” She said it’s clear the Russians have been trying to create a pretext for an invasion.

Even if the U.S. succeeds in deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin from ordering a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he will remain determined to bring Ukraine to heel and has “a whole host of options of things that he can do,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia scholar who has served in the past three U.S. administrations, the AP reports.

Russia could hit Ukraine with paralyzing cyberattacks, hobble its economy or even poison the Ukrainian president, Hill said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

Hill’s sober assessment of the Ukraine crisis, which she says is far from over, came as President Joe Biden warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days. Russia is believed to have some 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, and Western leaders say Russia has moved in thousands more troops despite announcing that some were returning to their bases.

Hill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of a book about Putin, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on Russia. During her government service, she was a national intelligence officer in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, and was the senior director for Russia on the National Security Council under former President Donald Trump. She testified in Trump’s first impeachment inquiry and was highly critical of his actions regarding Ukraine.

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