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Robert Gates / Lee Ferris, AP

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says President Obama and his aides "have their work cut out for them" on the Ukraine crisis.

"I'm not optimistic about how this is going to turn out, quite frankly," Gates told CBS This Morning.

For one thing, Russia President Vladimir Putin won't easily pull troops from the Crimea region, Gates said.

And European nations won't easily agree to tough new sanctions because Russia is such a big energy supplier, added Obama's former defense secretary.

Obama is handing the situation in a good way, Gates said, but "I think the challenge the president faces is that our allies may not be as willing to go along with these sanctions as they should be."

Gates also said that Putin "knows exactly what he's doing" in Ukraine.

"He's trying to re-establish Russian influence and a measure of control over the former states of the Soviet Union," Gates said. "He doesn't want to bring them back into the Soviet Union. He doesn't want to re-create the Soviet Union. He just wants them in effect to be part of an alliance with Russia, but where they essentially do Russia's bidding."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Gates: No quick solution on Ukraine

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