March 21, 2023

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The former CIA director has said that the war can only end if Putin understands that he can not win

  • Angel Bermudez (angelbermudez)
  • BBC News World

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Photo caption,

Panetta: “There is only one message that Putin understands: power”

Leon Panetta knows the US government inside and out and has held key positions.

He has served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, director of the CIA Intelligence Service, and secretary of defense under the Obama administration.

At the behest of the CIA, he was responsible for overseeing the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and the operation that led to his death.

As head of the Pentagon, he had to take over the organization of the defense alliances that the United States has with countries around the world, starting with NATO, which now plays a key role in the war in Ukraine.

Panetta criticizes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and sees the current conflict as a “proxy war” between the United States, NATO and Russia.

In an interview with BBC News Mundo (BBC’s Spanish News Service), Panetta said that Putin only understands the message of the military, so this is the path Ukraine must follow to make peace talks possible.

BBC News World – You said that diplomacy would not go anywhere if the Ukrainians did not have the ability to influence the negotiations. What can Ukraine do to achieve this potential and how can the West help it achieve this?

Leon Panetta – The most important thing for the Ukrainians is to continue to win the war against the Russians. That is the main advantage they have. Of course, so far they have been able to prevent the Russians from capturing their capital, Kiev, and now they are engaged in battle to ensure that the Donbass area is not brought under their control by the Russians.

But the better the Ukrainians face the Russians on the battlefield, the more power they will gain in negotiations.

Panetta – OK. There is only one message that Putin understands: power.

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Photo caption,

According to Panetta, Ukrainian forces must show Putin that he will not succeed despite the devastation he could inflict.

BBC News World – When you were Secretary of Defense, even though Putin was already at war with Georgia, the United States turned its attention from Europe to Asia. Do you think this focus on Asia is a mistake?

Panetta – No, because as we deployed additional warships in the Pacific, we also increased our troop presence in Europe to maintain strong support for NATO.

BBC News World – Would you say that Russia is currently the biggest threat to US security and world order?

Panetta – I think the reality is that we face many threats in the 21st century, and Russia is now at the top of the list because of the Ukraine war they waged.

The message sent to Russia about the price to pay for its invasion is the same message that the United States and its allies have to send to China, North Korea and Iran, so they understand that the price will be paid if they decide to go. To war.

BBC News World – You said that what is happening in Ukraine is a proxy war against Russia. Can you explain why you think so?

Panetta – The United States and our NATO allies are united against Putin’s occupation of Ukraine. Of course because of this alliance, they are working to make Russia pay a price for this invasion.

Imposed strict sanctions against Russia. They are arming the Ukrainians to fight the Russian invasion, and they are strengthening NATO countries to make it clear that they will oppose the Russian invasion.

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The United States and its NATO allies are providing advanced weapons to Ukraine to defend against Russia

BBC News Mundo – So the involvement and intent of the Western Alliance will turn this into a “proxy war” …

Panetta – Yes, that is, to the extent that the United States and our allies do all they can to support Ukraine in the war against Russia, you could say it is tantamount to a proxy war.

BBC News World – Some experts argue that Ukraine is not being used as a “proxy” (a third country to wage war on Russia instead of the United States and Europe), but simply a formal government to defend itself.

Panetta – Well, it depends on your “proxy” definition. It is clear from what President Biden said and what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said in recent weeks that the aim is to weaken Russia.

[Nota da BBC: após esta entrevista, Biden negou que o que está acontecendo na Ucrânia seja uma guerra por procuração contra a Rússia].

BBC News World – If the US-NATO war is really a proxy war, and the US Secretary of Defense says he wants to see Russia weaken, Moscow may think it has the right to take the war further from the border. Ukraine?

Panetta – Putin and Moscow ended the war and occupied a sovereign democracy. They must bear the consequences of their invasion themselves, and the best way to end this conflict is for Putin and Russia to decide to leave Ukraine. That is the result.

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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has called on Russia to withdraw from the war in Ukraine.

BBC News Mundo – You were Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA. How do you rate Biden’s initial strategy of publicly sharing information about Putin’s plans for the Ukraine war?

I think it is important for the public to understand the hypocrisy that Putin and Russia have lied to the world about their real purpose.

BBC News Mundo – Some argue that by doing so Biden may have endangered some intelligence assets.

Panetta – I think there are many sources of intelligence nowadays, whether it is technical or human. There are different sources, some of which do not put people at risk, so I hope they were careful with the intelligence they released.

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Before the war began, Biden released information about Putin’s war plans.

BBC News Mundo – As for the NATO expansion, do you think the alliance has gone too far in adding new members or should it have gone even further when it has the opportunity to expand?

Panetta – I think the decision on NATO was made by independent, sovereign countries, if those countries had decided that they should be part of NATO – for example, Finland and Sweden are considering that opportunity today – then I think. The decision to be taken by these countries.

I believe that alliances are absolutely necessary to confront our adversaries like Russia and others.

BBC News World – But generally the major powers are threatened if there is a powerful alliance around them …

Panetta – The best way not to threaten Russia is to become part of the international family, to engage in trade, to engage in financial relations, and to try to promote peace and prosperity with other countries. This is how you protect your security. Not with war.

BBC News World – How do you think this war will end?

Panetta – I hope it ends soon. I think Putin must understand that no matter how much he destroys, no matter how many innocent people he kills, he will not succeed in Ukraine. When he is ready to understand that, I think we will have a chance to end this war.

BBC News World – How close are we to that?

Panetta – I think the next few weeks will tell us a lot about whether we can get to that point soon or whether this war will continue in the future.

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