A former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine says Russia “is losing right now” and Vladimir Putin would likely exploit a cease fire or negotiations to end the war at this point.

“He will just use the time to regroup, rearm and reattack,” Marie Vovanovitch said in Des Moines last night.

Vovanovitch was U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2016 to 2019. She said Putin has talked about rebuilding the Russian empire and his unchecked aggression would embolden  authoritarians in other countries and ultimately endanger U.S. national security.

“Even after all of the troubles the Russian military has had in Ukraine, (Putin) has made it clear that his appetite has not been sated,” Vovanovitch said, “…and that he would go further.”

Vovanovitch retired in early 2020 after a 33 year career as a diplomat in the Foreign Service. She visited Ukraine last month.

“What really struck me was how mobilized everybody in Ukrainian society is,” she said, “…still volunteering for the front lines even though Ukrainians, like Russians, are taking huge casualties.”

Intake centers for new soldiers are “still being overwhelmed with volunteers,” she said.

Vovanovitch was interviewed by a Drake University alum in front of a crowd in the school’s basketball arena last night. Her appearance was part of an annual lecture series that has featured famous athletes, well-known authors and a former president.