Former CIA officer: Dangerous times ahead if Ukraine falls

Apr. 24—LEWISBURG — These are dangerous times, said former Central Intelligence Agency officer David P. Hunt during a Tuesday night speech at Bucknell on Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and the Russian president's goals.

Before an audience of about 75 people in the Forum at the Elaine Langone Center, Hunt, the keynote speaker at Bucknell's 7th Annual National Security Forum hosted by the Department of Political Science, began his presentation by saying that "if Putin prevails, there is no telling what might happen in Europe."

A renowned military analyst and frequent guest on FOX-TV, Hunt drew a personality profile of Putin, and his gradual emergence as Russia's uncontested leader.

Early on, Putin put on a "charm offensive," Hunt said, "so much so that the CIA even stopped teaching the Russian language. He was the ultimate con man. The West welcomed him as a new kind of Russian leader, after the fall of the Soviet Union."

That fall and a determination to restore and recreate the Soviet empire has been Putin's primary motivation, Hunt said.

"He has his eyes on the Baltic states," Hunt said. "Norway is worried."

Transitioning to the Ukraine War, Hunt said Putin perceives a stalemate in the U.S. as weakness.

"If the Ukraine War ends with Putin effectively winning, then Europe is in deep trouble," he said.

Hunt believes Putin sess the West in turmoil and indecisive.

"All this bodes ill for Europe and the U.S.," he said. "His confidence is quite high, which I think is quite dangerous.

"We are dealing with a personality different from anyone in the West."

There does not seem to be any opposition inside Russia, other than some "young Turks," Hunt said, describing some military leaders who are even more determined than Putin to spread their influence.

Hunt said it's a good thing Europe has awakened to the threat.

"Trump was right about NATO nations not paying their fair share, but now countries like France and Germany have shown support for Ukraine," he said. "They recognize the danger to their own interests should Ukraine fall."

As Hunt spoke Tuesday night. the U.S. Senate overwhelming OK'd an aid package for Ukraine and other allies.

"I'm hoping these funds from the United States will make a difference but Putin is very confident, his forces are dug in and it is very hard to see how this will come out," Hunt said.