'This is a big deal': Former Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor says Russia's tactical shift is a game changer
Bill Taylor

On Friday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor broke down the significance of Russia appearing to announce they no longer intend to seize control of Ukrainian capital Kyiv and will focus instead on "liberating" the eastern regions they have recognized as so-called "independent republics."

"Ambassador Taylor, how significant, potentially hugely significant, is it for Russia to say, their main goal, at least for them to be saying their main goal is to liberate Eastern Ukraine, compared to their original goal to potentially take order and set up a puppet government throughout the entire country?" asked anchor Wolf Blitzer.

"You're exactly right, this is a big deal," said Taylor, who rose to public prominence as a key witness in former President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial. "This demonstrates that the Ukrainians have indeed stopped the Russian advance. The Ukrainians have been fighting much harder than the Russians. We know that the Russian soldiers were not even sure why they were there. And we knew the Ukrainian soldiers knew exactly why they were there. They knew they were fighting for their country, for their independence. So the Ukrainians are super motivated and that has been demonstrated now. And I think what we're seeing is a change in momentum. We're clearly seeing the change in momentum in favor of the Ukrainians."

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"Do you expect Putin will try to claim victory, regardless of how badly this military campaign has gone for him?" asked Blitzer.

"Wolf, I think that's the key," said Taylor. "President Putin will look now to some kind of negotiations, conceivably. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. But it is possible with this change in momentum. With the... attack on Kyiv stalled, President Putin may be looking for a way back, a way down. And he can now say when he goes to these negotiations, if that happens, that what he really wants is Donbas. what he really wants is recognition of Crimea. He's not going to get that from the Ukrainians, but he can say that's what he was after. He can sit down with the Ukrainians and have that conversation."

Watch below:

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