Former NATO commander says Putin has his 'gun sights' on more nations apart from Ukraine

  • Former NATO commander James Stavridis said he is concerned that Russia won't stop at invading Ukraine.

  • He said Russian President Vladimir Putin has trained his "gun sights" on ex-Soviet states like Moldova.

  • But Stavridis added that Putin likely won't attack NATO members.

On Sunday, former North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has "got his gun sights" on ex-Soviet neighbors apart from Ukraine, as Moscow continues its invading push into Kyiv.

Stavridis, a retired four-star US Navy admiral and current executive at the Carlyle Group, said he was "quite concerned" that Putin wouldn't stop at Ukraine, in an interview with MSNBC's Jonathan Capehart.

"I don't think he'll attack a NATO nation. But he's got his gun sights on Moldova, on Kazakhstan, on Belarus, on these other nations, sovereign nations who were at one time part of the Soviet Union," Stavridis said.

"That's where he goes next. I worry about that a lot," he added. Kazakhstan and Belarus share borders with Russia, while Moldova sits to Ukraine's southwest. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is already a longtime ally of Putin's and last month allowed Russian forces to cross its borders for a northern assault into Ukraine.

Capehart noted that Stavridis didn't mention Estonia, Lithuania, or Latvia as among Putin's targets.

Stavridis, who served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO from 2009 to 2013, replied that Putin would likely refrain from attacking those countries because they are NATO members.

"I don't believe he would cross a NATO border in anger because the correlation of military force is so against him," Stavridis said.

Map of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia
NATO members Estonia and Latvia, along with Belarus, sit on Russia's western border.Screenshot/Google Maps

Stavridis' comments come two weeks after US President Joe Biden denounced the invasion of Ukraine as an attempt by Putin to rebuild the "former Soviet Union."

"The only thing I'm convinced of is if we don't stop now, he'll be emboldened," Biden said. "If we don't move against him now with these significant sanctions, he will be emboldened."

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