The West is already fighting World War 3 with Russia, Fiona Hill told The New Yorker.
"We've been in this for a long time, and we've failed to recognize it," the former White House advisor said.
Putin has made veiled threats to the West about nuclear weapons as he seeks to annex swathes of Ukraine.
The West is already embroiled in World War 3 with Russia but has failed to notice it, former White House Russia advisor Fiona Hill told The New Yorker.
Hill, one of the world's foremost experts on Vladimir Putin's Russia, discussed escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine's Western allies. Last week, Putin menaced the West with veiled threats about nuclear weapons as the Kremlin staged referendums, widely denounced as shams, in eastern and southern Ukraine regions it's seeking to annex.
"We've been in this for a long time, and we've failed to recognize it," Hill said.
Putin's remarks have sparked urgent concern that the war between Russia and Ukraine could spill into a wider conflict. President Joe Biden has warned Putin against using nuclear weapons, and according to reports, US intelligence is monitoring Russia for signs that nuclear weapons are about to be deployed.
Hill alluded to the fact that the US has backed Ukraine with military aid since the 2014 Maidan revolution. It led to Russia seizing parts of east Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and a protracted conflict. Russia and the US have also faced off on opposing sides of the Syrian civil war. The Kremlin has launched covert campaigns to subvert western elections and exacerbate internal tensions.
Putin's warning was issued following huge battlefield losses and military setbacks for Russia, with Ukraine recently seizing control of 2,320sq miles of territory from Russia. The loss has prompted Putin to enlist thousands of civilians and reservists into the Russian military and consolidate its control of territory in the Donbas region via e referendums.
Hill addressed the potential the conflict could spiral out of control because of a failure of the opposing sides to read each other's intentions.
"The problem is, of course, us misreading him, but also him misreading us," Hill observed.
Hill served as an advisor to the Trump administration and has been sharply critical of the former president's policies towards Russia and Ukraine, which she claimed emboldened Putin.