Alexander Vindman, who oversaw Ukraine policy in the Trump White House and became a key figure in the 45th president’s first impeachment, has criticized the Biden administration for doing “too little, too late” to stop Russia from invading its western neighbor and warned of a conflict that could spread throughout Europe.
Vindman, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, claimed White House policymakers “didn’t seem to come around to this threat until really quite late.”
“You only start seeing [them] take things seriously in the November and December  time frame,” Vindman told Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast on Tuesday.
When administration officials did grasp the gravity of the situation in Eastern Europe, Vindman explained, they focused on sanctions and other nonmilitary responses that would have no deterrent effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We should have been providing Ukrainians with a lot more advanced military capability,” he said.
The US and its Western allies estimate Putin has amassed up to 140,000 troops and heavy military equipment along the Ukrainian border, while White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan has said Russia could launch an attack at “any time.”
Vindman — who blew the whistle on Trump’s summer 2019 call asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden as well as natural gas company Burisma — added Tuesday that the effects of a Russian incursion could spill over outside of Ukraine’s borders.
“This could very well not end up being a limited war,” Vindman said on the podcast.
“We already have NATO allies — the Baltics, Poland, the UK — saying that they’re prepared to support Ukraine. Russia has to contend with that. There’s a chance that based on the fact that there are safe havens outside of Ukraine, the Russians might feel like they’re backed into a corner, especially if they’re suffering heavy casualties and need to respond,” he added.
Vindman went on to say that he could envision a scenario in which the Kremlin launches cyberattacks against Ukraine in preparation for an invasion that targets communication systems, critical infrastructure and power grids.
That is “absolutely going to spill over, as they have in the past, to Europe and to the US,” he said. “Then the US is forced to respond … That could escalate very quickly to easily the entire European theater … It has the very real possibility of spilling over in a big way, whether that’s in cyber or in actual military confrontation.”
“It has the real probability of really destabilizing Europe because thousands and thousands of refugees are going to be flowing into [Central and Western] Europe. It has the real probability of potentially expanding with greater Russian aspirations, casting eyes on the Baltics or something of that nature. And all these things are really detrimental to US interests,” Vindman said.
President Biden has vowed Putin would face “swift and severe consequences” in the form of wide-ranging economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, and he upped the ante on Monday when he said he would “bring an end” to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that is expected to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
“If Russia invades — that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine, again — then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2,” the president said at the White House during a joint appearance with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“We will bring an end to it,” he said.
The House voted along party lines to impeach Trump in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his call with Zelensky.
The Senate voted to acquit him in February 2020.