Former NATO Supreme Commander Admiral James Stavridis said during a media appearance Sunday that he believes there is a 60 percent chance that Russia will invade neighboring Ukraine under the direction of President Vladimir Putin.
Stavridis said that Putin has the West in a “perilous situation” as there is a potential for Russian tanks to roll across southeastern Europe. Putin has positioned between 100,000 and 150,000 troops across three flanks of Ukraine, including thousands of personnel carriers and tanks. The Russian Air Force was on standby with sufficient helicopters to carry troops behind Ukrainian lines in an invasion.
The admiral said that he believed Putin has the current capability to carry out a “full-on blitzkrieg” operation. He added that he believes that Putin is most interested in capturing just a piece of Ukrainian territory that will provide a land bridge from Russia to the Crimean peninsula already annexed without contest when Barack Obama was President.
A move to create an unfettered path to Crimea should concern the West, according to Stavridis, because it would put Putin in a position of having shown the world that he acts with impunity “anywhere around the periphery of Russia.”
NATO and the US need to do three things to thwart Putin’s plan, according to Stavridis. First, he says we must provide Ukraine with “lethal weapons.”
Next, he said that the West should personally impose stringent economic sanctions on Putin, including stopping the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline project.
Third, he said that NATO should respond to Russian aggression not with talk but by moving more NATO troops into positions near the Russian border in the Balkan states, Romania, and Poland.
He said that the current timing of Putin’s buildup on the Ukrainian border facilitates his effort to capitalize on his relationship with Joe Biden. He added that the issue is not whether NATO will listen to Biden but is whether Putin will listen to Biden. Stavridis said, “I think the jury is out on that question.”