Former US Army senior says Putin is ‘a cornered animal’
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a ‘cornered animal’ after racking up losses in Ukraine and was becoming ‘increasingly dangerous’ for the world.
Mullen told ABC’s ‘This Week’ host Martha Raddatz the US should take Putin’s nuclear threats seriously, saying the Russian leader had ‘plenty of options’ available to deploy weapons tactical or smaller-scale nuclear weapons.
“He’s a cornered animal…and I think he’s [become] more and more dangerous,” the retired US Navy admiral said. “I think we have to take it seriously and think about what the requirements would be to meet that. It also testifies to the need to sit down to eat.
Russian forces are struggling in Ukraine and have been pushed back from some occupied territories after several Ukrainian counter-offensives in the east.
Domestically, Russia is also struggling to contain widespread discontent with the war. Putin ordered a partial mobilization to round up some 300,000 reservists, which led to mass protests and thousands of Russians fleeing the country.
Meanwhile, Putin has repeatedly warned against nuclear attacks and said last month that Russia’s threats to use a weapon of mass destruction were “not a bluff”.
On Sunday, Mullen pointed to another setback for Russia that raises potential threats of a nuclear attack, citing the destruction of the Kerch Strait Bridge, which he called “logistically critical” and symbolic for Putin.
Over the weekend, an explosion decimated the Kerch Bridge, a key passage to the Crimean peninsula that is also symbolic for Russia as it connects to the Russian mainland. It is unclear whether Ukraine was behind the attack.
The UK MoD said the attack on the bridge was personal for Putin, who drove across the bridge in 2018 to celebrate its opening.
Amid rising tensions, the United States sent messages to the Kremlin privately, warning officials that any nuclear attack would mean a worse outcome for Russia.
Last week, Biden warned of “Armageddon” and warned the United States to take the Russian leader’s threats seriously.
Mullen said Sunday that Biden’s remarks were unhelpful and that his administration should focus on managing the crisis.
“We have to step back a bit and do whatever we can to try to get back to the table to resolve this issue,” the retired admiral said.