Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey appeared to stun MSNBC host Alex Witt on Sunday morning where he put the chances of Vladimir Putin using nukes at "zero" and urged NATO forces to destroy the Russian military forces on the ground in Ukraine before they begin their final assault on Kyiv.
According to the very animated retired general, Putin is in "so over his head" by invading Ukraine and not anticipating how citizens of the country would fight back and that it is time to bring about an abrupt end to the unprovoked invasion.
"Twenty-seven former ambassadors and foreign policy officials are calling on President Biden to create a limited no-fly zone over humanitarian quarters in Ukraine, arguing this can be done without risking direct engagement with Russia. Do you agree? " host Witt asked. "I mean, how is that? Doesn't that up the calculus for errors and mismanagement and then problems that could lead to a much worse situation?"
"Well, it's sheer nonsense, hopeful thinking, makes no sense from an air power perspective," McCaffrey shot back. "We're either going to go in and confront Russian air power and the ground air defense artillery and the 400 anti-aircraft system, which mostly is still in Russia, or we're not going to have any impact on the outcome."
"I think it's a political decision at the highest levels," he continued. "NATO can clearly knock the Russians into the next world in a 30-day air campaign. They can take out their ground elements, which are still inviting targets. So the question is, is NATO there? The answer is no. And is the president prepared to risk escalation? I think the answer is, no. We need to understand -- I don't think World War III is in the offing. I think that's nonsense. Putin is so over his head. 60 percent of his ground capability is in Ukraine and half his air power. So it's a question of are we going to watch Ukraine go under or not?"
That led a stunned Witt to ask, "What's your assessment today of NATO's ability to fend off Russia militarily?"
"It is enormous," he replied. "The Russians would be squashed if they tried to attack Poland, Romania, never mind a massive movement to take Western Europe. It's not even in the cards. However, what is in the cards is that NATO has now pulled itself together in dramatic fashion. I think the Biden's team been brilliant in the way they handled this, moved forward as an alliance, not as a U.S. unilateral move."
"I think we're going to see that across the board, Putin put himself in a strategic disaster. the problem is, how are we going to act to end this intense suffering in Ukraine? A huge nation, 40 million people, when the fighting in Kyiv gets intense and in the coming weeks it's going to be painful to watch," he continued.
"Where's your level of fear that Vladimir Putin might try to use tactical nuclear weapons?" the MSNBC host asked.
"I think it approaches zero," the retired general replied. "I cannot imagine a lieutenant colonel in the Russian Air Force telling Mr. Putin, this is a good idea. We have tactical nuclear weapons sitting on boomer submarines of the U.S. Navy that within 15 minutes could respond to a tactical attack. No one in their right mind thinks you can win a nuclear conflict."
"The Russians have written their doctrine that says escalate to de-escalate. mumbo jumbo," he added. "They nuke, what? Ukrainian forces, Polish forces, U.S. forces and then say now we want to talk? I don't think he's even remotely going to do that. If there was a giant nuclear exchange, it would be armageddon for the civilized world."
MSNBC 03 13 2022 13 13 01 youtu.be