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Texas A&M foreign affairs professors on the conflict between Russia & Ukraine, why the U.S. is getting involved

With pressure within the country and his own government, Putin might be left with no other choice than to invade Ukraine.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Tensions remain high as military intelligence estimates more than 120,000 Russian troops are now on the Ukraine border.

Andrew Natsios is the director of the Scowcroft Institute of international affairs at Texas A&M. He said people need to pay attention to what is going on in the region.

"I think it's one of the most serious crises facing us," Natsios said. "I do not believe China is the greatest threat. I think Russia is because Russia doesn't have a lot to lose and China does."

U.S. airmen at Dover Air Force Base loaded supplies bound for Ukraine Monday. While the United States is sending weapons and equipment overseas, Natsios says we need to be prepared to do more.

"If you have an aggressive, expansionary power, that's seeking territory, you need to stop it immediately if you can by aggressive measures," Natsios said.

Ukraine's ambitions to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and further expansion of NATO in the region is the reason Russia has been building up it’s military presence on the border, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Larry Napper is the former director of the Department Office of Soviet Union Affairs. He now is the Professor of the Practice at Texas A&M's Bush school of Government and Public Service. During his tenure the United States established diplomatic relations with each of the 15 independent states that emerged from the Soviet Union.

"Among the states of the former Soviet Union, the 15 states that came into existence with the breakup of the Soviet Union," Napper said. "He (Putin) clearly sees this as a Russian area or sphere of influence and that's what I think he wants to restore."

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Napper said the U.S. believes Ukraine and Georgia have a right to decide their own future and their own arrangements with other countries.

"Nobody's looking for a fight right here," Napper said. "In fact, the whole objective here is to avoid one by trying to deter the kind of Russian behavior that would make it more likely that we would find ourselves in such a situation."

With pressure within the country and his own government, President Putin might be left with no other choice than to invade Ukraine. If so, the U.S. and NATO's response needs to be swift and strong said Natsios.

"I would send troops into Poland and the three Baltic states and maybe the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who are also members of NATO if they wish us to be there, and to other Balkan states that feel threatened by Russia," Natsios said.

Ukraine's president is telling people to remain calm and that he is seeking a diplomatic solution.