AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Tensions remain high between the United States and Russia over Russia’s military buildup near the Ukranian border. NATO defense ministers say they’re concerned that Russia could try to overtake Ukraine. They say Russia has built up the largest concentration of forces in Europe since the Cold War.

Dr. Craig Albert, Associate Professor of Political Science at Augusta University and Graduate Director of Intelligence and Security Studies spoke with NewsChannel 6 about the dispute. He said it stems back to the Cold War.

Dr. Albert said back when the Soviet Union became Russia, leaders felt NATO, an inter-government military alliance, was a threat to Russia because it was established as an agreement against Soviet aggression. But he said today, there have been two major NATO expansions and to Russians, this appears aggressive.

“The U.S. and NATO sees it completely opposite,” he explained. The United States and NATO sees Russia continuing to do informal incursions into neighboring republics, setting up quasi independent territories in countries that are friendly to Russia over anybody else.”

Even though the Cold War has ended, Albert said NATO perceives Russia’s actions as what they were when the Soviet Union existed.

“Both sides in this dispute, if we don’t look at Ukraine for a minute, if you look at it as a great power competition between NATO and Russia, both sides are viewing the other side as non-necessarily causing the dispute,” Albert explained.

He said Ukraine is a buffer area where both NATO and Russia are fighting a proxy Cold War. He added analysts are confused about President Vladimir Putin’s motive.

He said, “There are other analysts that say President Putin wants all this, he’s purposely acting aggressively. That he believes Ukraine is Russian territory and it’s always been Russian territory.”

Albert said Russia has been increasing its troop presence for a year. The situation became more serious about three months ago. But Craig added, at this time, there is not a direct threat to our homeland security. But he said the worry is that the U.S. will appear to lack the power to calm situations down. He said there are very few solutions to the problem, such as giving in to Putin’s move to get more territory for Russia.

“The other is hard deterrence, Russia if you do this, there will be severe consequences.”