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Former CIA director: US will destroy Russian troops and fleet in Crimea if Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

The US and its allies will destroy Russian troops and equipment in Ukraine and sink its Black Sea Fleet if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses nuclear weapons in the war, warned former CIA director and retired Army General David Petraeus. Writes about it The Guardian.

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Petraeus said he did not speak with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan about the likely US response to Russia's nuclear escalation.

He said: “Just to give you a hypothetical idea, we would respond by spearheading a collective NATO effort that would destroy every conventional Russian force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine as well as in Crimea, as well as every ship in Black Sea.

The warning came days after Putin issued a statement that many interpreted as threatening a larger war between Russia and the West.

Asked if Russia's use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would lead to war with the US and NATO, Petraeus replied that it would not trigger Article 5 of the alliance, which calls for collective defense. This is because Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and yet a "US and NATO response" would be appropriate, Petraeus said.

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Petraeus acknowledged that the possibility that the radiation would spread to NATO countries under the auspices of Article 5 could possibly be interpreted as an attack on a NATO member.

“Perhaps this can be done,” he said. “It’s quite another thing that it’s so terrible that there should be an answer. A nuclear attack cannot go unanswered."

Still, Petraeus added, “No one wants to get into a nuclear escalation here again. But we must show that such an attack can in no way be accepted by the world."

However, with increased pressure on Putin after Ukraine recaptured the country's east and increased resistance to mobilization efforts within Russia, Petraeus said the Moscow leader was "desperate."

“The reality of the battlefield that he faces is, I think, irreversible,” he said. “No mobilization, no annexation, no even veiled nuclear threats can get him out of this particular situation.”

“At some point, there must be a start of negotiations, as President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said, and this will be the beginning of the end,” he added.

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But, Petraeus warned, “It could still get worse for Putin and for Russia. And even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield will not change anything.” However, he added, "we must take the threat seriously."

Senator Marco Rubio, a senior Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Putin has two options: establish front lines or withdraw and lose territory.

Rubio said he thought it was "quite possible" that Putin could strike distribution points through which US and allied cargo enters Ukraine, including in Poland. The senator acknowledged the nuclear threat, but said his biggest concern was "a Russian attack inside NATO territory, such as targeting an airport in Poland or some other distribution point."

“NATO will have to respond to this,” he said. “How the alliance reacts, I think, will depend on the nature of the attack, its scale and scope.”

But as a senator participating in Pentagon briefings, Rubio did not say whether he saw evidence that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

“Of course, the risk is probably higher today than it was a month ago,” Rubio said. “He can hit one of the logistical points. And this logistics point may not be inside Ukraine.”

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