A retired Russian general has warned Vladimir Putin against ordering an invasion of neighboring Ukraine, accusing the Russian leader of using the standoff to distract from domestic problems and predicting an attack would turn Russia into a “pariah of the world community.”
Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, chairman of the All-Russian Officers Assembly, wrote in a letter titled “The Eve of War” and posted on the group’s website that Putin was pursuing a “criminal policy of provoking war” even though Moscow is not facing any “critical threats.”
“[W]e demand to abandon the criminal policy of provoking a war in which the Russian Federation will find itself alone against the united forces of the West … and resign,” wrote Ivashov, who retired in 2001 and has written extensively since about Russian military and international affairs.
Ivashov’s letter contradicted Putin by saying that NATO forces are not threatening Russia, while adding that the West’s nuclear weapons are under “reliable control.”
“As for external threats, they are certainly present. But, according to our expert assessment, they are not currently critical, directly threatening the existence of Russian statehood and its vital interests,” wrote the 78-year-old, who served as chief of military cooperation in Moscow’s Ministry of Defense during the early days of Putin’s rule.
Launching an attack on Ukraine “will call into question the existence of Russia itself as a state” and it will make “Russians and Ukrainians mortal enemies,” Ivashov went on.
The former commander added that he feared NATO members, including Turkey, would intervene if Putin moved on Ukraine.
“Besides, Russia will definitely be included in the category of countries that threaten peace and international security, will be subject to the heaviest sanctions, will turn into a pariah of the world community, and will probably be deprived of the status of an independent state,” he wrote in the missive dated Jan. 31.
He also predicted massive casualties, “the destruction of the usual way of life,” and the “violation of the vital systems of states and peoples” if fighting breaks out.
“There will be thousands (tens of thousands) of dead young, healthy guys on one side and on the other, which will certainly affect the future demographic situation in our dying countries,” he said. “On the battlefield, if this happens, Russian troops will face not only Ukrainian military personnel, among whom there will be many Russian guys, but also military personnel and equipment from many NATO countries, and the member states of the alliance will be obliged to declare war on Russia.”
Michael McFaul, who spent two years as US ambassador to Russia during the Barack Obama administration, tweeted Sunday evening that Ivashov’s letter was ” a big deal.”
“At one time, General Ivashov was one of the most respected (and hawkish) leaders in the Russian MOD,” McFaul wrote. “Russian generals don’t usually get involved in public policy debates, especially ones like Ivashov.”
Putin has amassed an estimated force of more than 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine, and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that an invasion “could happen at any time.”
“We’re in the window where something could happen. That is a military escalation and invasion of Ukraine could happen at any time,” Sullivan told NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “We believe that the Russians have put in place the capabilities to mount a significant military operation into Ukraine, and we have been working hard to prepare a response.”
With Post wires