A former NATO commander warned Sunday that the next front in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely develop in the Black Sea — and that the US will have to help escort grain ships to prevent a global food crisis.
“You’re going to see another … front open in this conflict, which is going to include escorting grain tankers in and out of Odessa,” former Admiral James Stavridis told host John Catsimatidis on his AM 770 radio show in an interview that aired Sunday.
“I think that mission will probably be undertaken by the United Nations, by NATO, by the United States and our allies. But it is going to be a new front in the war that will emerge over the next few weeks,” said Stavridis, the former NATO supreme allied commander.
Ukraine, the world’s sixth largest wheat exporter, has blamed Russia for blocking shipments from its Black Sea ports, including Odessa.
But Ukrainian officials fear that establishing safe corridors to allow for the shipment of its exports could also create a path for Russian warships to attack it.
Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, has called on the West to lift sanctions imposed against it.
President Vladimir Putin, in remarks on Russian television Friday, blamed Western nations for causing any shortages, denied the allegation that Moscow was blocking Ukrainian ports and called for the safe passage of all ships carrying grain.
“We will facilitate the peaceful passage and guarantee the safety of arrivals to these ports, as well as the entry of foreign ships and their movement through the Azov and Black seas, in any direction,” Putin said.
Stavridis said the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had some unintended consequences for Putin, including uniting NATO more than at any time since the Cold War.
“You have Russia as the obvious aggressor in Ukraine today but making very threats … for example, about the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania — who are members of NATO. All of that has created real focus on the part of the alliance,” he told Catsimatidis.
“We are seeing European defense spending rise … Sweden and Finland, two highly capable militaries, previously neutral countries, are now applying for NATO membership. That NATO membership card is the hottest ticket in Europe this summer,” Stavridis said.
The former NATO chief said the Russian leader ”is failing his nation, and he is failing the world. And he will reap the cost of doing so.”
Putin launched his attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24 with the intent to quickly overtake Russia’s eastern neighbor and end the possibility that Ukraine would join NATO. He claimed Russia’s goal was to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.”
The Russian leader also wanted to limit what he saw as the continuing expansion of the NATO alliance into Eastern Europe and with it, the extension of the West’s military presence in the region.
But Putin’s early plan to quickly take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and overthrow the country’s government failed in the face of fierce resistance from Ukraine fighters and a number of tactical blunders that stymied the movement of Russian troops and bogged down their equipment.
Since that setback, Russian troops have been pressing an offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where they have been putting Ukrainian cities under constant artillery fire.
With Post Wires