Petraeus: US would destroy Russian troops if Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine | Ukraine | Catch My Job


The US and its allies would destroy Russian troops and equipment in Ukraine – as well as sink its Black Sea fleet – if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses nuclear weapons in country, former CIA director and retired four-star Army general David Petraeus warned on Sunday.

Petraeus said he had not discussed with national security adviser Jake Sullivan a likely U.S. response to a nuclear escalation from Russia, which administration officials said had been repeatedly communicated to Moscow.

He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypothetical, we would respond with a NATO-led — collective — effort that would remove every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine, as well as in Crimea and all ships in the Black Sea”.

The warning comes days after Putin made comments that many interpreted as a threat of a bigger war between Russia and the West.

When asked if Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would bring America and NATO to war, Petraeus said it would not be a situation that would trigger Article 5 of the alliance, which calls for collective defense. That’s because Ukraine isn’t part of NATO — however, a “US-NATO response” would be fine, Petraeus said.

Petraeus acknowledged that the possibility of radiation spreading to NATO countries under Article 5 might be interpreted as an attack on a NATO member.

“Maybe you can confirm that case,” he said. “The second case is that this is so horrific that there has to be an answer – it can’t go unanswered.”

Still, Petraeus added, “You don’t want, again, to get into a nuclear escalation here.” But you have to show that it cannot be accepted in any way.”

Still, with pressure mounting on Putin following Ukraine’s gains in the east of the country under last week’s annexation declaration and resistance to mobilization efforts inside Russia, Petraeus said the Moscow leader was “desperate.”

“The battlefield reality that he’s facing is, I think, irreversible,” he said. “No shambolic mobilization, which is the only way to describe it; no annexation; no amount of even veiled nuclear threats can actually get him out of this particular situation.

“At some point it will have to be acknowledged.” At some point there will have to be some kind of beginning of negotiations, like [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelensky said that it will be the end.

But Petraeus warned: “It could still be worse for Putin and for Russia.” Even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield will not change that at all.” Still, he added: “You have to take the threat seriously.”

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN that Putin was left with two choices: establish defensive lines or withdraw and lose territory.

Rubio said he believed it was “quite possible” that Putin could strike at distribution points where US and allied supplies enter Ukraine, including inside Poland. The senator acknowledged the nuclear threat, but said he was most concerned about “a Russian attack inside NATO territory, for example, targeting an airport in Poland or some other distribution point.”

“Nato will have to answer that,” he said. “How they respond, I think a lot will depend on the nature of the attack and the scope and scale of it.”

But as a senator briefed on Pentagon briefings, Rubio resisted being drawn on whether he had seen evidence that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

“Certainly, the risk is probably higher today than it was a month ago,” Rubio said, predicting that Russia is likely to take an intermediate step.

“It can hit one of these logistics points.” And that logistics point may not be within… Ukraine. For me, that’s the area I focus on the most, because it has a tactical aspect. And I think he probably finds it less escalating. NATO may not.”

This article was amended on 3 October 2022 to correct several misspellings of David Petraeus’ name.


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