Putin seeks diplomatic leverage with troop buildup, intel experts say

Russian president Vladimir Putin has bolstered his troops on the eastern border of Ukraine not in the hopes of taking over more of the country, but to bolster his hand in diplomatic talks, former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Putin called President Obama Friday to discuss the U.S. push for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to meet in Paris Sunday for further discussions.

In an interview with CBS News' Scott Pelley, Mr. Obama said that Putin has "been willing to show a deeply held grievance about what he considers to be the loss of the Soviet Union," suggesting Russian nationalism and a desire to reverse the impression that the West has taken advantage of Russia are at play.

Morell, who is a CBS news contributor, added that Putin is likely looking to ensure that Ukraine does not become part of NATO or the European Union.

"The capabilities of [Russian] troops would be to take perhaps a third of Ukraine if Putin wanted to, but it would be very difficult for him to hold," Morell said, adding it would be a very "nasty" situation. "What [Putin]'s trying to do is maximize what he gets out of this diplomatically. He thinks he's in a strong position, he wants us to come to the negotiating table," Morell said.

Former National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Hayden said that it was also likely Putin is looking for ways to ensure Russia is able to keep Crimea, even though several other world leaders have said that they do not accept the region's secession from Ukraine and subsequent annexation by Russia to be legal.

"We need to be concerned about this, but frankly I think [Putin] wants to pocket the Crimean victory, make that a fact beyond contradiction," Hayden said, predicting that the status of Crimea would not even be a part of talks between Lavrov and Kerry this weekend.

Putin's "tools" of power do not include the attraction of the Russian political system or economy, Hayden said, but merely "that threat, that danger, that presence of force along the Ukrainian border. I think we'll see them here for a long time which will be troubling and potentially destabilizing."

Hayden added that what "fundamentally matters" in any resolution is that the Ukrainian government and people have a say in the future of their state, and that negotiations are not just conducted between the U.S. and Russia.

The two intelligence officials also said that Mr. Obama's reforms to the way the NSA queries data will make Americans both safer and less concerned about government infringement on their privacy. The president announced Wednesday that the "workable" proposal from the intelligence community is to have phone companies rather than the government hold onto bulk data that is collected, and to reform judicial oversight of the way the agency queries the data. House lawmakers are crafting a bill that would follow the same basic principles to reform the system.

"We've arrived at a solution that actually makes us more safe and gets people higher comfort," Hayden said.

Morell, who served on the panel commissioned by the president to recommend reforms to the collection of telephone records, said he expected the final product would be a compromise between what the president and the House want. He said having the telephone companies hold the data - as the panel recommended - is the best path forward.

"There is a difference between the government holding the data, which creates a possibility for abuse by the government, and the government not holding the data, which obviously doesn't create that possibility," he said. "The phone companies have held this data for so long that there's no additional risk in them taking this on."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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