Speaking at a University of Connecticut contemporary issues forum on Wednesday, Clinton said that the sanctions against Moscow must be “tightened and widened” to prevent the Ukraine crisis from escalating.
“I think Russia will pay a big price for this,” Clinton said. “But that is an endpoint that we’ve got to get to as peacefully as possible without seeing the total disintegration of Ukraine as a country with territorial integrity and opportunity to have the relationship it wants with the West.”
The US and Russia are at loggerheads over the worsening crisis in Ukraine.
The Autonomous Republic of Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum a day earlier, in which nearly 97 percent of the participants voted in favor of the move.
On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law the documents officially making Crimea part of the Russian territory. He said the move was carried out based on international law.
On April 17, Russia, Ukraine, the US and the European Union agreed over steps to “de-escalate” the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where anti-Kiev protesters seized buildings in several towns and cities.
But, Ukrainian authorities have ordered a military offensive against the protesters, claiming that Russian special forces are fueling unrest in the country.
Putin has dismissed as “nonsense” claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine.
“It’s all nonsense, there are no Russian units, special forces or instructors in the east of Ukraine,” he said.
Hillary Clinton, who is thinking about running for president in 2016, claimed that Putin would like to see a return of a Russian era that no longer exists and urged the US and its European allies be “very clear, strong and to some extent patient” to ensure that the Russian leader does not succeed in his mission.
“I think the outcome for him and Russia will not be good, which is deeply unfortunate,” she said. “Russia should be a much more dynamic and much more successful country and could be if Putin weren’t trying to turn the clock back to the Soviet Union days.”