After Ukrainian forces retook the strategic eastern town of Lyman in a region Vladimir Putin claimed he had annexed, Senator Marco Rubio said Sunday he feared the increasingly desperate Russian president could come up with an attack on NATO territory retaliate.
Rubio, a top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he could not imagine a scenario in which Putin wins the war against Ukraine, which he invaded on February 24.
The Florida senator said Ukraine is “on a key path to reclaiming much territory.”
“Putin has two options here,” Rubio continued CNN’s State of the Union.
“They can design defense lines and say, ‘Here we’re going to draw some lines, and this is the territory that we’re going to try to hold on to,’ and concentrate his forces in that regard and take a couple of years to retrofit their forces or…they can pull back and keep losing territory,” Rubio said.
And given the lack of military offensive capability, Putin’s unpredictability of his response is a concern, Rubio said.
Senator Marco Rubio said he couldn’t imagine a scenario in which Putin wins the war against Ukraine.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
“If he decides, for example, that NATO arming, European and US arming of Ukraine will not only make him lose his war and thus undermine his power, but maybe even threaten his own forces… I think it will It is quite possible that he will end up attacking some of these distribution points where these supplies arrive, including within Poland,” the senator said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Sunday that Ukrainian troops are in control of Lyman, as Ukrainian media showed images of troops displaying the country’s yellow and blue flag in the city.
Lyman is in Donetsk, one of four regions Russia illegally annexed last Friday after it staged a series of sham elections.
But Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the region in recent weeks has managed to retake territory, embarrassing the Kremlin and sparking protests against Putin, who raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons in support of his embattled troops.
Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24. LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Putin on Sunday that any use of nuclear weapons would have “serious consequences” for Russia.
”President Putin’s rhetoric, nuclear rhetoric, is dangerous. It’s frivolous, but it’s actually something we’ve heard a number of times. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s dangerous,” Stoltenberg said on NBC News’ Meet the Press.
“It is also one of the reasons why we have made it so clear to President Putin that any use of nuclear weapons will have serious consequences for Russia. … And we also made it clear that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be waged. And this is a message that NATO and NATO allies are clearly conveying to Russia,” he added.
In the interview, Stoltenberg was asked if Putin was trying to involve NATO in the war.
“First, this is a war that President Putin started. It’s a war of his choice. Second, NATO is not a party to this conflict. What we are doing is supporting Ukraine, an independent sovereign nation in Europe, which has the right to defend itself against aggressive war,” he said
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he believed Ukraine, aided by US and NATO-supplied weapons, was also making “progress” in the Kherson region, noting a “kind of shift in battlefield dynamics.”
“They did very, very well in the Kharkiv area and moved to take chances. The fight in the… Kherson region is slowing down a bit, but they are making progress,” Austin said on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, which aired Sunday.
Given the determination of Ukraine’s armed forces, former CIA director General David Petraeus said Putin was facing a “grim” situation.
“Vladimir Putin is in an irretrievably desperate situation” because Ukraine has been more successful in mobilizing its armed forces and has put its military on its heels, he said.
“At the end of the day, the situation for Vladimir Putin looks really, really bad,” Petraeus John Catsimatidis said on his radio show WABC 770 AM in an interview that aired on Sunday.
With mail wires