Former CIA Director David Petraeus, the general who led U.S. forces in Iraq in 2007-2008, said Sunday that Russia cannot win its war against Ukraine and if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses tactical nuclear weapons, the U.S. will lead NATO in an unprecedented attack against Russia.
Petraeus spoke to Jon Karl of ABC News on “This Week.”
“He is losing,” Petraeus said of Putin. “And the battlefield reality he faces is, I think, irreversible. … over the last seven months, President Zelenskyy and Ukraine have mobilized vastly better than has Russia. In other words, Ukraine has recruited, trained, equipped, organized and employed forces incomparably better than Russia has.”
“By irreversible, you mean that Russia cannot win this war,” Karl suggested.
“They cannot — there’s nothing he can do at this point,” Petraeus answered. “The losses have been staggering. They have been many multiples, in seven months, what Russia lost in nearly a decade in Afghanistan — many, many multiples.”
“It can still get worse for Putin and for Russia,” Petraeus continued. “And even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield won’t change this at all.”
Karl asked Petraeus what would happen if Russia utilized tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield.
“Just to give you a hypothetical, 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,” Petraeus began.
Karl noted of a possible use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia, “The radiation would extend into NATO countries, it effectively would be an attack on NATO.”
“Yes. And perhaps you can make that case,” Petraeus replied. “The other case is that this is so horrific that there has to be a response, it cannot go unanswered. But it doesn’t expand, it doesn’t — it’s not nuclear for nuclear. You don’t want to, again, get into a nuclear escalation here. But you have to show that this cannot be accepted in any way.”
“He thinks he can out suffer Europe, if you will. And, you know, the Russians have out suffered Napoleon and the Nazis and so forth. But I don’t think he’s going to out suffer Europe. Europe’s going to have a tough winter, there’s going to be very reduced flow of natural gas, but they’ll get through it and I don’t think they’ll crack on the issue of support for Ukraine,” Petraeus concluded.