As Russia has stepped up the nuclear threat in recent days, retired General Mark Hertling said Thursday that with a leader like Russian President Vladimir Putin, “you don’t know what he’s going to do next and you can’t counter that, until it happens.”
Hertling’s comments came after Putin said in late September that Russia was ready to use nuclear weapons amid the war in Ukraine if it felt its “territorial integrity was threatened”. The Russian President stressed that his comments were “not a bluff”.
This week President Joe Biden said Putin was “not joking” about his threats to use nuclear weapons, warning that such a response could result in Armageddon.
Host Michael Holmes, appearing on CNN International, asked Hertling, “How much of a joker is someone like Putin, especially when cornered?”
“The decider is the joker,” Hertling replied. “You can address the potential ways you can respond and counter any type of movement by an enemy force. What you don’t always know is the vision of the individual making the decision.”
Hertling added that in the case of Putin, his army “practiced the use of nuclear weapons.”
“When you have a person like Mr. Putin who has already made some really bad decisions in this conflict and who has failed at every strategic goal he has tried to achieve, you don’t know what he’s going to do next and you can’t counter that until it happens,” Hertling added.
In recent weeks, Putin has suffered heavy losses on the battlefield. Russian troops were forced to retreat from the town of Lyman on Saturday after Ukrainian military encircled the area. The backlash came just a day after Putin announced that Russia was illegally annexing four regions of Ukraine: Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhia and Donetsk, where Lyman is located.
In conversation with news week On Friday, Javed Ali, associate professor of practice at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, said he believes the likelihood that Putin will use nuclear weapons is “extremely remote” because “the consequences for Russia that would matter.”
“Even a single use of a tactical nuclear weapon to have some effect in eastern Ukraine – would that be effective? Yes. But would it lead to much, much more serious consequences for Russia? I think the answer to that is yes,” Ali said.
“My take on Putin’s rhetoric is that it is exactly that,” Ali added. “He’s trying to wriggle out of this mess he’s created for himself on some level.”
news week has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
https://www.newsweek.com/general-mark-hertling-vladimir-putin-wild-card-comments-nuclear-threats-1750051 Putin Wild Card With Nuke Threats After Many Fails: General