“He wants Ukraine. He wants the Baltic states. He wants control over Eastern Europe. He wants to shatter NATO, and he wants the United States out,” he said.
Clark, who is a military analyst for CNN and served as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe from 1997 to 2000, said Putin desires to “disrupt the international system” and have the West “emotionally” and “morally disarmed” into believing that his ambitions extend only to Ukraine.
He also called on the US and its NATO allies to bolster military aid for Ukraine, particularly with fighter aircraft — an area that the Pentagon has declined to help with, having rejected a Polish plan to supply Kyiv with MIG-29 jets.
“Ukraine is just the current battlefield. But if Ukrainians defeat Russia on this battlefield, everything changes,” Clark said. “So the best way to protect NATO, the best way to protect the international system is to give Ukraine the assistance it says it needs and let them handle Russia on the battlefield.”
While US military campaigns over the last 50 years involved helping countries “who weren’t that prepared to fight,” the war in Ukraine is different, he noted.
“Now we’ve got a first-world country. Their soldiers have education just as good as ours. They’re just as good technically as we are. We give them our modern weapons, they can use them in 24 hours,” Clark said.
“So we’re going to have to do a better job of listening to the Ukrainians for what they need and get them the equipment they say they need,” he added.
To drive off Russia’s advance to Dnipro, Ukraine would need “heavy fighting equipment” beyond what the US has supplied so far, Clark said.
“Not Javelins, not Stingers. That’s fine for helping defend cities. They need tanks, they need mobile artillery, they need lots of ammunition. They need fuel, they need repairs. We don’t have that for them,” he told CNN, referring to Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
The war in Ukraine is set to enter its 39th day on Monday. At least 1,417 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the fighting and bombardment plaguing the country, and 2,038 have been injured, according to the United Nationswhich also noted that the actual figures are likely far higher.