The US and its allies might directly intervene in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, even if there is no threat to any NATO member states, retired US Army general David Petraeus told France’s L’Express weekly on Saturday.
Washington might form a new coalition of the willing in such a scenario and use it instead of NATO, Petraeus, who also briefly served as the CIA director, believes.
Russia could take some actions in Ukraine that would be “so shocking and so horrific” that it would prompt a response from the US and other nations, he said, adding that they “might react in one way or another, but as a multinational force led by the US and not as a NATO force.”
The military alliance would still likely be bound by its treaty and would only join the conflict if Article 5 is invoked, i.e. if one of its members is attacked, the general believes. Petraeus also said that Moscow is not interested in escalating the conflict and turning it into a global war. A wider conflict is “the last thing” Russian President Vladimir Putin needs right now, he added.
Earlier in October, Petraeus claimed that the US could wipe out all Russian forces in Ukraine, alongside with the Russian Black Sea fleet, if Moscow uses nuclear arms in Ukraine. On Saturday, he doubled down on these words by saying that Washington’s response to such a move on Russia’s part would involve “more than diplomatic … economic and legal actions.”
At the same time, Petraeus said that his earlier words had described “just one” of “many options” America has in store in case Russia resorts to the use of nuclear arms, which he called an “extremely bad decision.”
The general also said that he still thinks there is nothing Russia could do to change the situation on the frontlines, which, according to Petraeus, is unfavorable to Moscow.
Petraeus commanded US forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, presiding over America’s highest death tolls during the 20-year war, and increased civilian casualties.
The general helped persuade then-President Barack Obama to deploy an additional 30,000 US troops to the country, but his counterinsurgency plan, which hinged on “securing and serving” the local population, flopped.
He then became CIA director in 2011, only to resign the following year after having an extramarital affair with the woman who was writing his biography.