The US and its NATO allies would destroy Russian forces and sink the Black Sea fleet if Vladimir Putin decides to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, former CIA director David Petraeus has predicted.
The retired four-star general spelled out in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday what he believed would happen if the Kremlin warmonger used nuclear weapons.
“We would respond by leading a Nato – a collective – effort that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea,” he said.
Petraeus said Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would not trigger NATO’s Article 5, which calls for collective defense of member states, because Ukraine is not part of the alliance.
But he said that if Putin were to use nuclear weapons, the high probability that radiation from the strike would affect a member of the alliance could possibly be construed as an attack against NATO and fall under Article 5.
“Perhaps you can make that case,” he said. “The other case is that this is so horrific that there has to be a response — it cannot go unanswered.”
Putin has made repeated veiled threats to use nuclear weapons, prompting National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to warn Russia of “catastrophic consequences” last week.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken likewise said that the Biden administration has made it “very clear” to Moscow that a nuclear strike would be followed by “horrific consequences.”
President Biden warned Putin in a speech following the annexation ceremony in the Kremlin that the US and its allies were “fully prepared” to “defend every single inch of NATO territory.”
Petreaus said that the Kremlin warmonger is losing the war and now faces an “irreversible” disaster on the battlefield, despite “desperate” moves.
“No amount of annexation, no amount of even veiled nuclear threats can get him out of this situation,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus also had some harsh words on Putin’s “shambolic” mobilization efforts, which have triggered protests in Russia and sent tens of thousands of military-aged men fleeing across the border to dodge the draft.
“President Zelensky and Ukraine have mobilized vastly better than has Russia,” Petraeus said. “Ukraine has recruited, trained, equipped, organized and employed force incomparably better than Russia has.”
Over the weekend, Ukrainian forces liberated the strategically important city of Lyman in the newly annexed Donetsk region and have continued making new gains in the Kherson region, which Russia also now claims as its own.
“He’s going to continue to lose on the battlefield,” Petraeus said of Putin.
Asked if Russia could still win the war with Ukraine, Petraeus said: “They cannot. There is nothing (Putin) can do at this point.”
Petraues predicted that the war ultimately would end at the negotiations table, as Zelensky himself has said, but the former head of the CIA warned that “it can still get worse for Putin and for Russia. And even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield won’t change this at all.”
Still, he added, “You have to take the threat seriously.”