'Sign of weakness': Former Trump official tells CNN that Putin's army has shown itself 'pretty incapable'
Newly named National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Former Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster on Thursday told CNN's Erin Burnett that he's not yet concerned about Russian President Vladimir Putin launching a war against NATO countries due to the ineptness of his current operation in Ukraine.

During a conversation about the war, Burnett asked McMaster about Russia's threats to use nuclear weapons if the United States and its allies escalate the conflict.

"Erin, this is again a sign of weakness," McMaster said. "Putin's conventional forces are proving themselves to be pretty darn incapable. You know, his economy is the size of Italy's and now under severe sanctions. What is he left with? Cyberpower and nuclear power and this is this doctrine of escalation."

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McMaster also explained why he didn't think Putin would be capable of taking and holding the entire country of Ukraine.

"That is a lot of force, 160,000 [troops]," he said. "But now, divide that on four axes of advance and then think of the distance they have to cover. And then, recognize only about one-third of those troops are close-combat troops. I don't think there is any way, Erin, that he can go all the way if 'all the way' means gaining control of all of Ukraine, and consolidating gains politically to put in a puppet government across all of that territory. I don't think he is going to be able to do that in an acceptable level of loss."


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