WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- American and allied forces may directly intervene in the ongoing Ukraine conflict against Russia even without a threat to any member of the NATO military alliance, former U.S. spy chief and Army general David Petraeus has said.
If Russia took some actions in Ukraine that would be “so shocking and so horrific,” it would then prompt a response from the U.S. and other nations, the ex-CIA director projected on Saturday during an interview with France’s weekly magazine, L’Express, noting that they “might react in one way or another, but as a multinational force led by the U.S. and not as a NATO force.”
Petraeus, who also commanded the U.S. occupation forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, suggested that Washington might form a new coalition of the willing in such a scenario and use it instead of a NATO force to engage against Russia.
He further implied that NATO would remain bound to the terms of the military alliance and would only join the war if one of its members came under attack.
Earlier this month, Petraeus had claimed that the U.S. could wipe out all Russian forces in Ukraine -- alongside with the Russian Black Sea fleet -- if Moscow resorted to the use of nuclear weapons in the country.
The decorated retired Army general doubled down on such claims during the Saturday interview by insisting that Washington’s response to any Russian use of nukes would involve “more than diplomatic … economic and legal actions.”
Petraeus further underlined that his earlier remarks only raised “just one” of “many options” America has in store in case Moscow resorts to the use of nuclear arms, describing the suspected move as an “extremely bad decision.”
The former top U.S. military and intelligence official insisted, however, that Moscow is not interested in escalating the Ukraine conflict and turning it into a global war, adding that a wider conflict is “the last thing” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin needs right now.
Pointing to recent Western press reports about major counter-attacks and gains scored by Kiev forces, Petraeus also claimed there is nothing Russia could do to change the situation on the frontlines, which, he said, is unfavorable to Moscow.
This is while Moscow insisted on Saturday that Russian forces troops had repelled an attack by Ukraine in the southern region of Kherson, where Kiev forces have reported advances in recent weeks.
The Russian Defense Ministry declared in a statement that “all attacks were repulsed, and the enemy was pushed back to their initial positions.”
The ministry went on to note that Ukrainian forces pressed their offensive towards the areas of Piatykhatky, Suhanove, Sablukivka, and Bezvodne, on the west bank of the Dnieper River. Russian forces had also repelled attacks in Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine, it added.
Petraeus commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, presiding over America’s highest death tolls during the 20-year war, and increased civilian casualties.
When Petraeus commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan, he persuaded then-U.S. president Barack Obama to deploy an additional 30,000 soldiers to the war-torn country, but his so-called counterinsurgency plan, which hinged on “securing and serving” the local population, proved disastrous.
He was later appointed as director of the CIA spy agency in 2011, only to resign the following year after a scandal involving his extramarital affair with a woman who was supposedly writing his biography.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned Sunday that the situation in Ukraine is rapidly deteriorating and spiraling into “uncontrolled escalation,” as the conflict in the former Soviet republic drags on for the eighth month.
Shoigu raised the alarm in a phone conversation with his French counterpart, Sebastien Lecornu.
During the call, the Russian minister said Moscow has concerns Ukraine could use a “dirty bomb” in the conflict, without providing any evidence to support his warning that that Ukraine might use such a weapon.
“They discussed the situation in Ukraine, which is rapidly deteriorating,” Shoigu was quoted as saying in a readout of the phone call published by the Russian Defense Ministry, adding, “It is trending towards further uncontrolled escalation.”
Later on Sunday, the ministry said Shoigu held a separate phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, also conveying “concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a dirty bomb.”
A so-called dirty bomb uses conventional explosives laced with radioactive material.
Since the onset of the war, the United States and its European allies have imposed waves of economic sanctions against Moscow while supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev over Russian objections. Moscow has been critical of the weapons supplies to Kiev, warning that it will prolong the conflict.