A top military figure, retired general David Petraeus, warned today that Vladimir Putin could “lash out” and attack the West within the next two years because he is running out of money. Gen. Petraeus said that Putin will become more desperate and would perform a “suicidal act of violence” as western sanctions wipe out his country’s cash fund.
According to an article in Express.co.uk:
The respected soldier predicted that the nuclear superpower will completely run out of cash within two years and will not be able to raise more funds to bankroll its aggressive foreign policy, potentially leading to deadly consequences for those nations on its doorstep.
He also insisted that the country’s meddling in Syria is “clearly not” about fighting the threat of ISIS and warned that the construction of a huge airbase to house Russian pilots is part of Putin’s ideological drive to reestablish the Soviet empire.
In a dire warning shot to NATO members including Britain, the military expert said: “I think Putin has a limited window of a couple of years to continue provocative actions…and we have to be very careful during this time when he could actually lash out and be even more dangerous than he has been.”
The former general, who was the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, made the explosive comments when he appeared before a panel of US senators today.
He was being quizzed by politicians on the Armed Services Committee about America’s strategy in the Middle East.
Former presidential hopeful John McCain – himself a veteran of the Vietnam war – asked Gen Petraeus what Putin was trying to achieve with the “incredible build up” of Russian forces in Syria.
Gen Petraeus said: “What Vladimir Putin would like to do is resurrect the Russian empire. You see this in a variety of different activities.
“Now he is, of course, in Syria as well and trying to revive Russian relationships with countries in the Middle East.
“Clearly he would like to shore up his ally Bashar al-Assad at the very least he wants to make sure Bashar is not thrown under the bus by either other regime members or perhaps even Iran.
“Beyond that he wants to help al-Assad solidify his grip which has been challenged increasingly in recent months by ISIS and then by other opposition forces…so that he can at least keep a rump Syrian state.”
Russia has recently stepped up its military support for the beleaguered Syrian dictator, sending 28 war planes to operate from a huge airbase it has built deep in his heartland to house up to 1,000 soldiers and pilots.
Putin’s troops have also been spotted on the ground fighting alongside forces loyal to al-Assad.
Asked what the US should do about Russia’s aggressive strategy in the region, the general told Senators: “The first thing is we should not go in league with this, we should not think that we can partner with Russia and Iran and Bashar al-Assad against ISIS.
“If Russia had wanted to fight ISIS they could have joined the 60-plus member coalition that General Allen has so capably put together and helped drop bombs on ISIS. They have some capabilities that would be useful to that fight so this is clearly not what they’re up to.”
He added that Putin’s aggressive stance over Ukraine, where he has supported separatist rebels fighting for control of the east of the country, would be unsustainable in the long-term due to financial pressures.
Russia’s economy has been battered by western sanctions imposed after Putin annexed the peninsula of Crimea in March last year.
The general said: “What Putin wants in Ukraine is to ensure that Ukraine does not succeed. His worst nightmare would be a thriving, vibrant, prosperous democracy with free market economy on his western border.
“He’s going to do everything he can now that the conflict seems to be freezing to keep it bubbling.”
Gen. Petraeus said that a recent drop in violent clashes between the rebels and Ukrainian government forces was probably down to the fact that Putin has ordered his henchmen to hold back ahead of a crunch appearance before the UN general assembly later this month.
The Russian leader is desperate to convince western nations to ease the “crippling” sanctions currently imposed on his country which are having a devastating economic impact.
He added: “I think that Putin is not playing the strongest hand in the world, although he’s playing his hand tactically quite effectively.
“At the end of the day Vladimir Putin is going to run out of foreign reserves. He’s probably got $200 billion or so left.
“He will burn through those in the course of the next two years and if the sanctions are still imposed at that time, he and the companies that have debt coming due – he is running a very large fiscal deficit – are not going to be able to go to the world markets and get money to finance their Government operations.
“So I think he actually has a limited window of a couple of years to continue provocative actions in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Syria, Georgia and so forth, and we have to be very careful during this time when he could actually lash out and be even more dangerous than he has been.”
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