A former CIA director warned that the US and NATO allies would destroy Russian forces if Russian President Vladimir Putin used nuclear weapons in his war with Ukraine.
David Petraeus appeared on ABC’s ‘This week’ on Sunday, saying that the nuclear threats from Putin must be taken seriously and that the ruler is ‘desperate’ as the ‘battlefield reality he faces is irreversible’.
Putin signed a decree earlier this week to illegally annex parts of Ukraine. Days later, however, Russia was forced to withdraw troops from the strategically important Lyman – located in one of the four Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia.
While signing the decree, Putin also condemned the ‘satanic’ West and vowed to use all the power of the Kremlin to protect Russia’s new territory. The remark was widely seen as a nuclear threat.
Petraeus said that, though Ukraine is not a NATO country, an ‘American and NATO response’ would be appropriate.
He told host Jonathan Karl that the likelihood of radiation from a nuclear weapon reaching a NATO country might be seen as an attack on a NATO member.
‘This is so terrible that there must be a response – it cannot go unanswered.’
‘Just to give you a hypothetical, we would respond by leading a NATO – a collective – effort that would remove every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea. ‘
Former CIA Director David Petraeus appeared on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ where he warned that the United States and NATO allies would destroy Russian forces if Russian President Vladimir Putin used nuclear weapons in his war with Ukraine
Ukraine on Sunday claimed full control of Lyman’s eastern logistics hub. The area is the most significant battlefield gain by Russia in weeks, providing a potential staging post for further attacks to the east while putting further pressure on the Kremlin.
Russia likely suffered heavy losses during the withdrawal. Russia had 5,000 to 5,500 troops in the city before the Ukrainian attack, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Saturday.
More than 60,000 Russian troops have been killed in the war, now entering its eighth month.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the capture of the city, where Ukrainian flags were raised over civilian buildings on Saturday, demonstrated Ukraine’s ability to drive out Russian forces and showed the impact Ukraine’s deployment of advanced Western weaponry was having on the conflict .
“President Zelensky and Ukraine have mobilized far better than Russia,” Petraeus said on Sunday. ‘Ukraine has recruited, trained, equipped, organized and employed forces incomparably better than Russia has.’
“The battlefield reality he faces is, I think, irreversible,” he said. ‘No amount of shambolic mobilization, which is the only way to describe it; no amount of annexation; no amount of even veiled nuclear threats can actually get him out of this particular situation.
“At some point there will have to be recognition of that. At some point there will have to be some kind of beginning of negotiations, which President Zelensky has said will be the ultimate end.’
However, Petreaus pointed out that ‘Russia was hit with a thousand more individual, personal and other sanctions’ in response to the annexation, ‘which shows that the West still has more that can be done against Russia.’
He continued with a warning: ‘It could still get worse for Putin and for Russia. And even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield will not change this at all.’
But added: ‘You have to take the threat seriously.’
Petraeus also said he could not see how Russia could win at this point.
‘They can not. There is nothing he [Putin] can do at this time.’
Petraeus’ remarks come after Putin on Friday proclaimed the annexation of four regions covering nearly a fifth of Ukraine as the war enters its eighth month
He told co-anchor Jonathan Karl that the likelihood that radiation from a nuclear weapon would extend to a Nato country might be perceived as an attack on a Nato member
Earlier on Sunday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dismissed Putin’s nuclear threats as ‘sabre rattling’ but condemned the autocrat for continuing to change the global order.
‘There is no control of Mr Putin. Just like he made the irresponsible decision to invade Ukraine, you know, he could make another decision,’ Austin Fareed Zakaria told GPS.
“But I don’t see anything right now that would lead me to believe that he has made such a decision.”
Videos appeared to show Russian troops forcing Ukrainian civilians to the polls at gunpoint to vote on whether to join Moscow’s jurisdiction.
‘As you have heard us say, this referendum is a sham. It is fiction. And we will never respect their illegal annexation of Ukraine’s territory, and neither will most of the international community, Austin said Sunday.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threat is “irresponsible” but predicted the autocrat was unlikely to follow through
Austin branded Putin’s veiled nuclear threat ‘irresponsible’.
“This nuclear saber rattling is not the kind of thing that we would expect to hear from leaders of major countries with capabilities,” the Pentagon chief said.
He acknowledged high-level talks between Washington and Moscow on the matter, but Austin said he has not spoken to his Russian counterpart “in recent days.”
“I have addressed this very issue and warned not to go down this path and engage in this type of irresponsible behavior,” Austin said.
“So, yes, I have in the past in person, but I haven’t spoken to him recently.”
He also condemned Putin’s illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine, which followed a referendum Austin called a ‘sham’
Petreaus told ABC he had not spoken to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan about the likely US response to nuclear escalation by Russia.
He explained that if Russian forces used nuclear weapons in Ukraine, it would not be a situation that would trigger the alliance’s Article 5, which calls for collective defense. This is because Ukraine is not part of NATO – but still an ‘American and NATO response’ would be appropriate.
The Ukrainian military said in its evening statement on Sunday that its forces had repulsed Russian advances in several areas – notably in Donetsk region near Bakhmut and Spirne, just inside Donetsk region near Lysychansk, a major center in neighboring Luhansk region.
Russian forces had captured Lyman from Ukraine in May and had been using it as a logistics and transport hub for its operations in the northern part of the Donetsk region. Its recapture of Ukrainian troops is Russia’s biggest battlefield loss since Ukraine’s blitzkrieg counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region in September.
Control of Lyman could prove a ‘key factor’ in helping Ukraine regain lost territory in the nearby Luhansk region, whose full capture by Moscow announced in early July after weeks of grinding progress, Luhansk governor said Serhiy Gaidai.