Fiona Hill, a former White House expert on Russia and widely regarded as a non-partisan foreign policy expert on the former Soviet Republics in general—including Ukraine—is testifying publicly before Congress today as part of impeachment proceedings aimed at President Trump. The former intelligence analyst is co-author of a 500-page book analyzing the psyche of Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Among other things, on Thursday, she warned House Intelligence Committee members that a narrative adopted by some supporters of Trump—that it was Ukraine, rather than Russia, that interfered in the 2016 US presidential election—is a fiction put forward by Russian security services. “In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” Hill said. “These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.”
The former Brookings Institution fellow has sometimes been described as a “Russia hawk” in the press. Or as CNN Politics put it: “Hill’s views sometimes seemed at odds with Trump’s own desire to improve relations with the strongman leader whom Trump, as a candidate, often spoke of admiringly.”
This is the second time Hill has appeared before the committee; in previous (closed-door) testimony, she revealed how she and her boss at the time—John R. Bolton, former White House national security adviser—were alarmed by rogue efforts by Trump allies to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals. The New York Times called her account then “gripping,” and quoted her description of events as “my worst nightmare.”
She has more to say about administration policy towards Russia and Ukraine—publicly this time, and in greater detail—at today’s hearings, which are being covered live.
Which makes this a good time to take another look at what Fiona Hill wrote for the Bulletin about Putin in 2016—well over a year before she joined Trump’s National Security Council.
In the opening paragraph of her article Putin: The one-man show the West doesn’t understand, Hill wrote: “A misreading of this man—now one of the most consequential international political figures and challengers to the US-led world order since the end of the Cold War—could have catastrophic consequences… Where do his ideas and conceptions come from? How does Putin look at the outside world? Why did he annex Crimea in 2014 and intervene in Syria in 2015? What does he know about the West? What does he think about the United States? These are all critical questions.”
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