- A former NATO commander said Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted “control of Eastern Europe”.
- pension General Wesley Clark said the best way to protect NATO is to help Ukraine defeat Russia.
- He called on the US to increase military aid to Ukraine, especially fighter jets.
A former NATO commander has warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s real goals in attacking Ukraine are to “establish control of Eastern Europe” and “crush” the alliance.
During an interview with CNN on Sunday, retired US four-star general Wesley Clark also called on the West to supply Kyiv with more arms.
“He wants Ukraine. He wants the Baltic States. He wants control of Eastern Europe. He wants to crush NATO and he wants the United States to come out,” he said.
Clark, who is a military analyst for CNN and served as NATO’s top allied commander for Europe from 1997 to 2000, said Putin wants to “disrupt the international system” and “emotionally” and “morally disarm” the West into believing that his Ambitions extend only to Ukraine.
He also called on the US and its NATO allies to step up military aid to Ukraine, particularly with fighter jets — an area where the Pentagon has declined to help, having rejected a Polish plan to attack Kyiv with MIG- 29 jets to supply.
“Ukraine is just the current battlefield. But if Ukrainians defeat Russia on this battlefield, everything will change,” Clark said. “So the best way to protect NATO, the best way to protect the international system, is to give Ukraine the support it needs and let Russia handle it on the battlefield.”
While US military campaigns over the past 50 years have included helping countries “that weren’t as willing to fight,” the war in Ukraine was different, he noted.
“Now we have a first world country. Their soldiers are just as well trained as ours. They are just as good technically as we are. We give them our modern weapons, they can use them within 24 hours,” Clark said.
“So we need to better listen to Ukrainians what they need and get them the equipment they say they need,” he added.
The retired general said Russian forces would next try to capture the city of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine to cut off Ukrainian forces in the Donbass region, where Moscow has recognized two separatist areas as independent states.
To repel Russia’s advance on Dnipro, Ukraine would need “heavy combat equipment” beyond what the US has provided so far, Clark said.
“Not Javelins, not Stingers. That’s fine to help defend cities. They need tanks, they need mobile artillery, they need lots of ammo. They need fuel, they need repairs. We don’t have that for them,” he told CNN, referring to Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
The war in Ukraine enters its 39th day on Monday. At least 1,417 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 2,038 injured in the fighting and bombing that has plagued the country, according to the United Nations, which also noted the actual numbers are likely far higher.