Computer Crime Research Center


Gen. Petraeus: Invasion reveals a host of weaknesses in Russia's military

Date: March 17, 2022
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Peter Bergen

... demonstrate very poor standards of everything, given that they barely made it through basic and advanced training and then unit integration and now they are in combat (and their tours were supposed to have ended in April, until Putin extended them).
BERGEN: US officials say that Russia is asking China for military and other forms of aid. What do you make of this?
PETRAEUS: The report by US officials is interesting in several respects. First, if accurate, it indicates that Russia is running out of certain weapons systems and munitions -- another reflection of how Russia seriously miscalculated so many aspects of the war they launched.
Second, this presents a very difficult issue for China. It was one thing for China to abstain from the UN General Assembly vote in which 141 countries condemned Russia for its unprovoked aggression. It would be a very different matter if China was to accede to Russia's request and thus actively side with a country that is truly becoming the evil empire, the target of unprecedented sanctions and experiencing a decoupling from the global economy. It also might result in some sanctions on China.
Price of oil drops below $100. That's good news for gas prices

Price of oil drops below $100. That's good news for gas prices 02:30
Third, beyond those issues, President Xi Jinping clearly has to be irritated with Russia's invasion, as Ukraine's largest trading partner was China.
Finally, Xi, having gotten through the Olympics had likely hoped for no drama in the months leading up to the Communist Party gathering in the fall during which he undoubtedly will be reelected for an unprecedented third term as President, while retaining his leadership of the Party and the Military Council. Putin could thus put Xi in a very awkward position.
So, it has not been a complete surprise that both Russia and China have stated that no such Russian request for aid was issued.
BERGEN: What do you think the Ukrainians need most?
PETRAEUS: Clearly, the US anti-tank Javelin system. And it's not just the Javelin. It's also other countries' anti-tank systems -- and man-portable air defense systems, as well. The UK AT system is very good. 17,000 of these anti-tank weapons have flowed into Ukraine in just one week. That's a huge number of man-portable anti-tank systems.
BERGEN: Should the US have begun arming Ukraine after Putin seized Crimea in 2014?
PETRAEUS: Congress authorized the transfer of Javelin weapons to the Ukrainians, and then it was delayed in the Obama administration. In the early period of the Trump administration, the Javelins were finally delivered, but then you had the whole issue with Ukraine subsequent to that when President Donald Trump reportedly withheld equipment for a period.
The effort by the Biden administration to arm the Ukrainians and the actions of our Western partners has been really quite dramatic, especially in the immediate run-up to the invasion and then following it. You see that Germany, which would only send helmets prior to the invasion, agreed to give lethal weapons. Even the EU agreed to send 500 million euros worth of military and other aid to Ukraine. So, there were revolutionary policy changes just days after the invasion began.
BERGEN: Are you surprised by that?
PETRAEUS: I think you must give credit to the US and to NATO and to the EU. I think that the Biden administration has performed impressively, and I say this as someone who publicly criticized the administration for the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and the conduct of the withdrawal in August 2021.
BERGEN: Getting inside Putin's mind, of course, is not easy, but to what extent do you think that US withdrawal from Afghanistan may have figured in his calculations?
Biden and Harris are missing a big opportunity on Ukraine crisis
Biden and Harris are missing a big opportunity on Ukraine crisis
PETRAEUS: It is impossible to say, obviously, but what one can say with confidence is that some potential American adversaries seized on that withdrawal to say: "See? We told you the US is not a dependable partner and ally, and we told you that the US is a great power in decline."
Hearteningly, I think that US actions and those of our allies around the world on Ukraine have shown that the US is a dependable partner and is not a great power in decline. If anything, instead of Making Russia Great Again, what Putin has done is to Make NATO Great Again.
BERGEN: There have been warnings by the Biden White House about the possible use of chemical weapons by Putin. Is that plausible? Because it seems like kind of a Rubicon to cross.
PETRAEUS: It would be a Rubicon to cross, although the Russians have crossed that Rubicon before. They used the nerve agent Novichok against opponents of the regime such as Sergei Skripal and Alexei Navalny. They clearly have nerve agents. It's unknown whether they have them in large amounts and whether they're deliverable, but that clearly has to be a serious concern.
Certainly, the Biden administration has sought to dissuade Putin from using chemical weapons by exposing that possibility. In fact, another way in which this administration has been very impressive is taking what clearly are finished intelligence products and turning them into publicly releasable announcements without exposing sources and methods, which is really quite unique.
In fact, I think it has been quite effective because it has established the Biden administration's credibility on Ukraine. You can't dismiss what the administration is saying is possible, given that so much of what they said about Putin's plans for and goals in Ukraine, which was either initially dismissed or seen as unlikely, has now come to pass.
BERGEN: The Russians, clearly, they're taking significant losses, according to US officials.
PETRAEUS: Yes. It appears that they have taken more fatalities in the first two weeks of the war than the US took in 20 years in Iraq; somewhere around 5,000 or so by most accounts, which is just stunning.
BERGEN: Is it politically sustainable for Putin, or is it not clear?
This is how Ukrainians win the long war
This is how Ukrainians win the long war
PETRAEUS: Only time will tell. He seems to still have a very strong grip on power. But when do the mothers of the fallen soldiers start to really make their voices heard? What happens when the economic collapse really comes home to roost? When does the collapse of the ruble, the collapse of the economy, the inability to reopen the Russian stock market, the departure from Russia of major corporations who spent decades building up there such as McDonald's or Starbucks begin to hit home?
In fact, 380 companies, according to the count of a professor at Yale, have ceased operations in Russia. No one can predict what the results of the sanctions, frozen assets, corporate decoupling and other actions will be on Russia and the Russian people.
BERGEN: What do you make of the Russian attack on the Ukrainian base near the Polish border: What does this portend for a possibly widening conflict?
PETRAEUS: The Russian attack on the sprawling Ukrainian training base near Lviv, which I visited while in uniform, was undoubtedly launched to try to interdict the flow of weapons and supplies into Ukraine from Poland, some 12 miles to the west, and also, perhaps, to disrupt the location at which the foreign volunteers may be receiving orientation training before joining Ukrainian forces.
Given the proximity to the border, it clearly raises concerns about strikes falling in a NATO country -- which would require a NATO response given NATO's Article 5 commitment. Given the understandable efforts by NATO leaders to avoid a widening of the war, the attack on the training base outside Lviv obviously raises red flags, and I am confident that NATO leaders have consulted on possible responses should the conflict widen further.
BERGEN: After the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 you asked a reporter, "tell me how this ends?" How does the Ukraine War end?
PETRAEUS: Well, I think there are several possibilities, and I'm not sure which is the most likely. Right now, though, it appears that it doesn't end, and that you have a bloody quagmire for Russia that is worse than the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
This quagmire would cause a terrible loss of life, destruction, displacement, depopulation of urban areas, a massive humanitarian catastrophe, as well as terrible losses for Russia, without a conclusive outcome for Russia. We're talking about this in the somewhat near term; in other words, in the next year or so.

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