James G. Stavridis, a prominent former NATO chief, said on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin views himself in lofty terms despite his army’s massive losses in Ukraine.
Stavridis served in the U.S. Navy from 1976 to 2013, reaching the rank of admiral. He also served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2009 to 2013. Currently, he makes frequent appearances as a military analyst for MSNBC and NBC News, and has spoken often about the happenings in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
On Saturday, Stavridis appeared on MSNBC and spoke with host Ali Velshi about the state of the conflict in Ukraine. During the interview, Velshi asked if the Russian military has the troops and resources to launch a meaningful new ground offensive, to which the former NATO commander said that, while Putin might have the troops for a “significant” assault, he does not have enough to deploy “massive waves of troops.”
“I think they can mount and begin a significant combat offensive,” Stavridis said. “But the idea that Putin is going to be able to [deploy] massive waves of troops—he thinks he’s Stalin conducting World War II. He’s going to end up like Nicholas II, the last tsar of the Russians, because he is running out of these troops.”
Stavridis continued: “And you hit the casualty numbers a moment ago, Ali, 50 percent casualties. Let me put those in perspective for you: in 20 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq combined, U.S. casualties were well under 1 percent. During World War II, at the very highest end of combat operations, we suffered 10 percent casualties in some very significant campaigns in the Pacific. Fifty percent casualties, unimaginable from a military perspective. He is burning through troops, and…he is burning through equipment as well. Bottom line, no, I don’t think he has the capacity to undertake a massive, breakthrough kind of offense here.”
The rumored new Russian offensive, as Velshi mentioned earlier in the interview, continues to dwindle in reported size, once being planned as 500,000 troops, before dropping to 300,000, and then again to 200,000. Issues with poorly trained conscripts also continue to persist.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen. A former NATO commander on Saturday said that Putin’s aspirations in Ukraine are unsustainable given his army’s “unimaginable” casualty rate.
Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images
Meanwhile, daily reports from the Ukrainian government backup Stavridis’s grave assessment of Russia’s mounting casualties and losses of hardware, with a Saturday update reporting that the invading army had lost 1,030 men in the prior 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 142,270. Some estimates from other countries vary on this count, while Moscow has not updated its official statistics for losses in Ukraine since September.