NATO must prepare for an all-out war with Russia as President Vladimir Putin is expected to “lash out” following Ukraine’s striking recapture of Russian-occupied territory that reversed close to six months of Russian gains, a former NATO deputy commander told Fox News.
Russian forces on Tuesday withdrew from areas in the Luhansk region, marking the latest victory for Ukraine as its soldiers push eastward, reclaiming more than 2,000 square miles of territory in what some believe could be a critical turning point in the war.
United Kingdom Gen. Sir Richard Shirreff told “The Story” Tuesday that while Ukraine’s “brilliant” counteroffensive operation is “a total humiliation for Putin and for Russian arms,” maintaining their success on the battlefield will be a harder feat with a Russian counterattack imminent.
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“It’s brilliant. I think it has really far-reaching implications potentially, but let’s be cautious,” Shirreff warned. “They’ve achieved great success. They have to maintain their success. Equally, they have to be ready for the Russians to reorganize and counter-attack.”
With the failures of the Russian armed forces evident on the global stage, Putin is expected to order a devastating escalatory attack to reassert his strength, Shirreff said, warning that Russia’s use of nuclear weaponry isn’t off the table.
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“What we would all like Russia to pack up, go home and forget about it, but that won’t happen,” Shirreff told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum. “We have to assume that Putin could easily escalate in some other ways. I’m sure that Russia will lash out…the worst case of course is if Russia decides to go serious escalation. That potentially brings in the threat of nuclear weaponry.”
Shirreff said NATO should prepare for the “worst case” in the event that Putin resorts to nuclear war. The Russian strongman has repeatedly suggested that Western interference in his invasion of Ukraine could lead him to use nuclear weapons. U.S. officials have said that Putin would only resort to nuclear war if he perceives an existential threat to Russia. However, with Ukraine’s recent victories on the battlefield, he may feel pushed into a corner, Shirreff explained.
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“I said it before, and I’ll say it again: The NATO mindset needs to change. NATO really needs to be prepared for the worst case, which is war with Russia,” Shirreff said.
“At the same time, NATO needs to be doubling down on support and supplies of weapons, equipment, support with training to give Ukraine the defensive maneuver capability it needs to complete the job.”