John Bolton, former assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (NSA), was talking to Robert Peston about how Putin seems to be succeeding at driving a wedge between Western allies.
Discussing Putin’s strategy, Mr Bolton, 73, said: “I think it’s very dangerous in large part because Putin is looking at this through a strategic framework that neither the United States nor NATO are responding in an appropriate way.”
Talking to Peston, Mr Bolton explained the probable plans Putin has in his mind. He said: “I think he is looking at a range of options.
“I don’t think he has made up his mind finally on what he wants to do because he is still doing a continuous cost-benefit analysis.
“I think his aims range from dividing NATO, driving wedges between the allies, at which he seems to be succeeding, reducing American influence in Europe, putting a squeeze on Ukraine on a number of aspects, or it’s possible he is planning a show game.
“While we are looking at Ukraine, he is looking at Georgia, Belarus, or someplace else. And even in Ukraine, he has got a range of options.”
His comments came as other Western leaders repeated warnings that Russia would pay a heavy price for invasion.
While Russia has continued denying any plans to invade Ukraine, Mr Bolton said: “He is not limited to an all-out invasion and take over the country.
“He may be satisfied in toppling the Zelinsky government, he may be satisfied in taking over another big chunk of Ukrainian territory and putting it under Russian control.
“He has got the momentum, he has got the initiative.
“We are responding, I don’t think we are deterring him effectively and it gets very worrying.”