Petraeus: US would crush Russia’s troops if Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine | Ukraine

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

Petreaus said he has not spoken to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan about the likely US response to the nuclear escalation from Russia, which government officials said Moscow has been repeatedly told.

He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypothesis, we would respond by leading a NATO — a collective — effort that would eliminate every Russian conventional force we have on the battlefield in Ukraine and also on Crimea and anywhere can see and identify ship in the Black Sea”.

The warning comes days after Putin expressed views that many have interpreted as a threat of a wider war between Russia and the West.

Asked whether Russia’s use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would put America and NATO at war, Petreaus said that would not be a situation triggering Article 5 of the alliance, which calls for collective defense. That’s because Ukraine isn’t part of NATO — yet a “US-NATO response” would be appropriate, Petreaus said.

Petreaus acknowledged that the likelihood of radiation spreading to NATO countries under the Article 5 umbrella could potentially be construed as an attack on a NATO member.

“Perhaps you can bring this case up,” he said. “The other case is that this is so awful that there has to be an answer — it can’t go unanswered.”

However, Petreaus added: “You don’t want to get into a nuclear escalation here again. But you have to show that this is by no means acceptable.”

Amid mounting pressure on Putin after Ukraine’s gains in the east of the country under last week’s annexation declaration and growing opposition to mobilization efforts within Russia, Petreaus said Moscow’s leader was “desperate”.

“The battlefield reality he’s facing is irreversible in my opinion,” he said. “Not a lot of shambolic mobilization, that’s the only way to describe it; no extent of annexation; no nuclear threat, however veiled, can actually get him out of this particular situation.

“At some point it has to be acknowledged. At some point there has to be some kind of start of negotiations, like [Ukrainian] president [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy said it will be the final end.”

But, Petreaus warned, “It can always get worse for Putin and for Russia. The use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield will not change that.” Nevertheless, he added: “You have to take the threat seriously.”

Senator Marco Rubio, the senior Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN that Putin had only two choices: establish defense lines or withdraw and lose territory.

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

“NATO will have to react to this,” he said. “How it’s going to respond, I think a lot of that will depend on the nature of the attack and the scale and scope of it.”

But as a senator privy to Pentagon briefings, Rubio resisted being asked if 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 would likely take an intermediate step.

“He could hit one of those logistical points. And that logistical point may not be in… Ukraine. For me that’s the area I focus on the most because it has a tactical aspect. And I think he probably sees it as less escalating. Nato maybe not.”