Former CIA Director and U.S. Army General David Petraeus predicted on October 2 that Washington would lead a NATO response with overwhelming force to any use of nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine, destroying all Russian assets and bases in the region. “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,” he said, although conceding that he was speaking hypothetically and was not aware of the Joe Biden administration’s exact plans. “You have to show that this cannot be accepted in any way,” he stated regarding such a move by Russia. His statement comes amid growing speculation in the West, and some calls within Russia itself, for use of nuclear weapons as the Russian Military faces mounting losses on the battlefield.
Petraeus’ comments follow those by retired commander of U.S. forces in Europe from 2014 to 2018 Army General Ben Hodges, who similarly claimed that Washington could respond to a nuclear strike by eradicating Russian bases in Crimea or destroying the Russian Navy Black Sea Fleet – the flagship of which was already lost in April. The former CIA Director claimed that absorbing four Ukrainian regions into the Russian Federation was a “desperate” move by Moscow due to its losses. “He is losing, and the battlefield reality he faces is, I think, irreversible,” he said regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that there was “no amount of shambolic mobilisation, which is the only way to describe it, no amount of annexation, no amount of even veiled nuclear threats, can actually get him out of this particular situation.”
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in an apparent response to these claims, warned that “retired idiots with generals’ stripes” ought not to attempt to intimidate Moscow with claims that NATO could attack Crimea. “Hypersonic [missiles] are sure to hit targets in Europe and the U.S. much faster,” he said referring to a strategic capability where the Russian Military still retains a major advantage and an asymmetric asset depended on heavily to counterbalance the Western Bloc’s larger arsenals.