A fomer NATO strategic commander says Russia’s war in Ukraine where untold thousands have been killed in the past six months is the worst ethnic cleansing in Europe since the Holocaust of World War II.
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark said the next 4-6 weeks were crucial to the outcome of the war as he blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for „the most heinous crimes of ethnic cleansing.”
There is „absolutely” no way that there should be negotiations with Russia now, he said.
“It’s ethnic cleansing on a scale unknown in Europe since really since…. the Holocaust and it’s going on right in front of us and people are talking about a peace agreement,” he said in an interview on Aug. 23 made available to Universul.net.
The retired general said it was “absolutely” too early for any negotiations with Russia.
“Ninety-three percent of the Ukrainians believe that Russia should be pushed out of all occupied territories, including Crimea,” Clark, 78, told John Florescu, an American producer and documentary filmmaker, who conducted the interview for Alianta, a national Washington-DC organization for strengthening US-Romanian relations.
„(The Ukrainians) want their country back. Putin made a fundamental mistake in the way he set up the war. He set up the war as a genocidal war to destroy a people, their culture, their language, and, and he’s doing it in the filtration camps.”
„There are (already) tens of thousands of kidnapped children and murdered parents. We don’t know the full dimensions of this because as clumsy as the Russia, military has been, their filtration operations seem to be pretty specific, pretty exact.”
While Clark was highly critical of the war, he called Putin „a shrewd statesman” and „the world’s most experienced global leader” who is still in regular contact with governments around the world despite the mass killings.
“The voices demanding a halt to the fighting have no appreciation for what this war means to the people of Ukraine. …. They’re fighting for their very existence. There won’t be a Ukraine if they lose,” he warned.
Gen (ret) Clark was NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe from 1997 to 2000. He led the alliance’s NATO’s Kosovo campaign to end Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic’s bloody crackdown on the region’s ethnic Albanian community in 1998.
On U.S. weapons:
In the interview conducted from Bucharest, the seasoned general who fought in the Vietnam war said: “The balance has shifted against the Russian military,” after the U.S sent HIMARS, high-tech American rocket launchers.
“That’s what really made the difference… (as) they were able to target command posts and logistics and disrupt the Russian artillery bombardments to the extent that the front lines held, they haven’t collapsed.”
He explained that Ukraine was going into the third phase of the war.
On the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility:
„It’s whether Ukraine can regain Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. It’s being fought out on a daily basis in actual battle space. And also in the information space, the information space is being fought over this Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility and the …. manufactured concerns that Ukraine might blow it up. ”
He said Ukraine had no interest in blowing it up.
„The Russians occupied it; they’re using it as a secure base because they know the Ukrainians can’t attack it. And it’s a blocking force, like… an impregnable castle in medieval combat sitting right there. Ukrainians need to regain Kherson Oblast, ideally before the Russians can run off a fake referendum and then declare that Kherson and the rest of occupied Ukraine is part of Russia.”
“What they know is that if this is stopped right now, with Russia occupying the southern coast, That Putin will have a military breathing spell in which he can rebuild his forces (and) rearm… get the technology he needs from China or India, or smuggling it in. And by next spring, boom, the rest of Ukraine will be under attack.”
“And without the south coast, without that farmland, the industrial land of the Donbas, Ukraine’s a much less viable proposition. Putin wants to destroy it.”
On Russia’s intelligence agencies:
“Putin gave his intelligence agencies several billion dollars over six years to buy Ukraine. And apparently this fifth directorate of the FSB decided, well, you know, everybody else makes money in Russia, 2 billion. I’ll take a little bit from it. And everybody took a lot from it and nothing happened.”
“And so maybe they bought off some people in the Kherson Oblast…. a couple of people.. defected and so forth. That’s a Russian way of war, but they didn’t buy off Ukraine. And I think they were shocked. And so now (we have) the Ukrainians. How could you accept an imposed piece by Western powers that say, just give up your country.?
On nuclear weapons:
“I don’t think we’re on the brink of any use of tactical nuclear weapons. I think the threat was useful for Mr Putin, but I don’t think that the use of tactical nuclear weapons at this point makes sense.”
„The diplomatic impact the economic impact, the global outrage of the use of nuclear weapons would outweigh any tactical advantage at this stage. That having been said, Mr. Putin can use nuclear weapons whenever he wants. If he were winning, he could have used them to say, ‘look, I’m just gonna finish this conflict really quickly. Just like you Americans did in Japan in 1945.'”
“If he’s losing, he can say, ‘well, we’re gonna destroy everything that’s left and you’re not coming after us in Russia’. He could use him whenever he wants, but I think in terms of the calculus and he’s still a pretty shrewd statesman. He’s the most experienced global leader on the stage today.”
“He still has excellent connections with governments all over the world. He has personal relationships with many of these people. President Macron calls him frequently. He knows what the temperature; he knows it.”
“I do think there’s some urgency though, on the military side for the Ukrainians. They need to get this fighting done in Kherson and retake Crimea this year. And that’s a matter of the west stepping up and we’ve had real concerns. Germany… has such a mixed historical legacy with respect to Ukraine and Eastern Europe.”
Where this ends:
„But the majority of the German people are not supporting chancellor Scholz and his reluctance to send weapons. They see the threat, they want the threat pushed back. I don’t think any of this goes into something like regime change against Putin. Nobody’s talking in those terms. But you have to ask yourself when this ends. This is a leader who started an aggressive war in the heart of Europe that’s resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, 10 million displaced people and refugees, trillions of dollars of damage…. and caused starvation elsewhere in the world.”
„And he’s guilty of the most heinous crimes of ethnic cleansing, taking children away from their parents, murdering people in these filtration camps. What are you gonna do? Welcome him back at the United nations and applaud when he gets up to speak.”
On need for Western leadership:
“Mighty Russia, you mean they can’t conquer Ukraine? Maybe Russia’s not as strong as we thought. Maybe we don’t have to be as afraid of Russia. Maybe we can speak up for our own values. This tide has to shift. It takes courageous leadership in Western capitals, including in the United States to do this. The United States is the leader. You cannot lead NATO from behind.”
“I’m cautiously optimistic at this stage provided we continue to flow the material in at maybe an accelerated rate over the next four to six weeks to enable Ukraine to seize Kherson Oblast I’m fearful of what will happen in the winter with the continuation of sanctions.
“We’ve got a short window of opportunity here, militarily, after that, politics and economics will weigh in more heavily,” he said.