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POLITICS: PennAve

Hopes for diplomacy grow as Russia seeks to pocket Crimea gains

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Russia,National Security,PennAve,Tim Mak,Dianne Feinstein,Ukraine,Crimea

A diplomatic solution to the tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine could be around the corner, a number of D.C. policy-makers hopefully predicted Sunday morning.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that while she was concerned about the more than 40,000 Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border, there was some optimism about the prospect of a diplomatic solution.

"What gives me a sense that we may be able to solve this situation is the fact that Putin did call our president, and suggestions were made," Feinstein said on CNN's "State of the Union."

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama to discuss diplomacy regarding the crisis in the Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are expected to meet later this week.

"[I have a] deep, persuasive hope that Russia will find, as has been termed, an 'off-ramp,' and not go ahead with this, and that diplomacy is able to make up for it," Feinstein said, referring to the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Two former high-ranking intelligence offiCIAls predicted that Putin would try to solidify his position and favor a diplomatic solution while he had the strategic upper hand.

Citing the threat of an insurgency if Russia were to invade the eastern part of Ukraine, former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said Putin is trying to "maximize what he gets out of this diplomatically. He thinks he's in a strong position, he wants to come to the negotiating table."

Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, agreed, saying that Putin "wants to pocket the Crimean victory."

There are already signs that the debate over Crimea is settling. Citing her college studies in Russian history, Feinstein indicated her belief that Russian control over Crimea was all but a done deal.

"Crimea is dominantly Russian. A referendum was passed; I think that has been done. ... I get the Crimea thing," Feinstein told CNN's Candy Crowley. "The Ukraine situation is very, very different, and I have deep concerns.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak echoed this, saying on ABC’s ‘This Week’ that “there was an expressed will of people living in Crimea to become a part of the Russian Federation.”

The ambassador also indicated that Russia has been “trying to work on” a diplomatic solution “for quite a long period of time,” and was “not planning to” invade Ukraine.

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