David Petraeus made the statement in an interview with broadcaster ABC News, Polish state news agency PAP reported on Monday.
Asked how the United States would respond if Russia used nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the former CIA director said: “Just to give you a hypothetical, 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.”
The former US top spy was also asked if the use of nuclear weapons by Putin in Ukraine would bring Washington and NATO into the conflict.
Petraeus replied that NATO’s Article 5 calling for collective defence would not be triggered because Ukraine is "not part of NATO," however a “US and NATO response” would be appropriate in such a situation, according to the guardian.com website.
The ex-CIA chief agreed that if radiation extended to NATO countries, it could perhaps be construed as an attack on a NATO member, theguardian.com reported.
Patraeus said: “Perhaps you can make that case. The other case is that this is so horrific that there has to be a response – it cannot go unanswered.”
At the same time, the former CIA director stressed: “It's not nuclear for nuclear. You don’t want to, again, get into a nuclear escalation here. But you have to show that this cannot be accepted in any way.”
Putin is ‘desperate’
Petraeus told ABC News that given Ukraine’s continued battlefield success, despite the Kremlin’s annexation declaration, and given Russians’ growing resistance to the partial call-up, Putin had become “desperate.”
Petraeus said in the interview: “The battlefield reality he faces is, I think, irreversible. 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.”
The retired US Army general also stated: “At some point there’s going to have to be recognition of that. At some point there’s going to have to be some kind of beginning of negotiations, as [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelensky has said, will be the ultimate end.”
According to Petraeus, “it can still get worse for Putin and for Russia, and even the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield won’t change this at all.”
At the same time, “you have to take the threat seriously,” the ex-CIA chief said.
Monday was day 222 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: PAP, abcnews.go.com, theguardian.com