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Former top US military officer says Putin is ‘a cornered animal’

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen on Sunday said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “cornered animal” after mounting losses in Ukraine and is becoming “more and more dangerous” to the world.

Mullen told ABC’s “This Week” host Martha Raddatz the U.S. should take Putin’s nuclear threats seriously, saying the Russian leader has “lots of options” available to deploy tactical or smaller-scale nuclear weapons.

“He’s a cornered … animal and I think he’s [become] more and more dangerous,” the retired U.S. Navy admiral said. “I think we have to take him seriously and think through what the requirements would be to respond to that. It also speaks to the need to get to the table.”

Russian forces are struggling in Ukraine and have been pushed back from some occupied territory after several Ukrainian counteroffensives in the east.

Domestically, Russia is also struggling to contain widespread discontent with the war. Putin ordered a partial mobilization to draw up some 300,000 reservists, which led to mass protests and thousands of Russians fleeing the country.

Meanwhile, Putin has repeatedly warned of nuclear attacks and last month said Russia’s threats to use a weapon of mass destruction was “not a bluff.”

Mullen on Sunday pointed to another setback for Russia that raises the potential threats of a nuclear attack, citing the destruction of the Kerch Strait Bridge, which he said was “logistically critical” and symbolic for Putin.

Over the weekend, an explosion decimated the Kerch Bridge, a key crossing to the Crimean Peninsula that is also symbolic for Russia because it connects to the Russian mainland. It’s unclear if Ukraine was behind the attack.

The United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry estimated the bridge attack was personal for Putin, who drove across the bridge in 2018 to celebrate its opening.

Amid the soaring tensions, the U.S. has been sending messages to the Kremlin privately, warning officials that any nuclear attacks would result in a worse outcome for Russia.

Last week, Biden warned of “Armageddon” and cautioned the U.S. to take the Russian leader’s threats seriously.

Mullen on Sunday said Biden’s remarks were not helpful and his administration should focus on dealing with the crisis.

“We need to back off that a little bit and do everything we possibly can to try to get back to the table to resolve this,” the retired admiral said.

Tags Kerch Bridge Martha Raddatz Mike Mullen Mike Mullen Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin
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