General Breedlove: «Clashes near the Donbass,“ real ”attacks in the north and south. Nightmare scenarios in the heart of Ukraine “

Of Viviana Mazza

Breedlove, who led NATO, describes some hypotheses for the war: Passive deterrence is not served. With the recognition of the separatist republics, Putin wants to unleash the fury of the Ukrainians against Zelensky for having “lost” the nation’s territories

General Breedlove,
Did American TV CBS say the day before yesterday that Putin had already given the order for the invasion? What does it mean?

Having not heard the actual order, I cannot answer for sure. But normally it works like this: you give the order to move to the position to attack from (many units have already done so). Then there is an order that we call D-Day H-hour: the date and time of the start of the operation. At that point, everyone is waiting for a “no-go”, that is, a stop, or the ok to operate.

American General Philip Breedlove was the Supreme Commander of NATO Allied Forces in Europe during the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Today he teaches at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech University in the United States, but has been to Ukraine in the past. weeks with a mission for former military ambassadors and leaders.

How do you read Putin’s recognition of the separatist republics?

I think the first target is Zelensky. an attempt to infuriate the people against the president for having “lost” the Ukrainian territories.

The US press spoke of three possibilities: a massive attack on a national scale or in parts of the country or its suffocation as in the grip of a python. What can happen?

There are three possibilities that attack scenarios could lead to, each with a different geostrategic objective. 1) From the north, pressure on Kiev aimed at overthrowing the Zelensky government. 2) An invasion from the east and a message from Putin to the Ukrainian government but above all to the EU and NATO: I am here, I will dictate security in Eastern Europe, you are irrelevant. 3) From the south it can exert immense economic pressure; if it cuts off Mariupol and then blocks or seizes portions of the Odessa port, Ukraine will be completely cut off from the sea. I don’t know if there will be a Blitzkrieg (lightning attack) or a nationwide invasion, but there is a ready force capable of inflicting serious damage on Ukraine, the economy and the people.

At an event of the Atlantic Council think tank you said that there are not enough troops for a full-scale invasion.

I don’t think Putin has enough troops for all three scenarios. But let’s think: where are the best Ukrainian forces? On the line of contact, the Russians fight every day near the Donbass. A nightmare scenario that Russia attacks there to keep the majority of Ukrainian forces locked in fear of a larger attack: a “light” operation, while the “real” attack can take place in the north and south.

Could it also continue to surround Ukraine?

another nightmare scenario. Putin said his forces will remain in Belarus. If he keeps Ukraine surrounded, he will completely ruin their economy. And Belarus will never recover. He will be a puppet of Russia. Putin will be able to keep his forces there to make sure his men handle it.

The cost of keeping troops on the border? Is there a countdown?

There are two countdowns. The other is that of the Kiev economy. I think Putin can resist more.

Are Putin and the West using different tools in this clash?

To my students I explain the power of a country using the 10 cent coin, in English “DIME”: diplomatic, information, military, economic. a toolbox but we tend to use only one tool, sanctions, while Putin uses them all: a false diplomatic picture according to which Ukraine commits genocide; an information campaign that reaches every social media and every email; 190,000 troops ready to attack; and the gas game. The sanctions did not change his behavior. Passive deterrence? It too failed when Putin overruns. If he finds a tool that works he will continue to use it.


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