Ex-General Warns Against Underestimating What Russia 'May Attempt to Do'

Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula warned on Saturday against underestimating the capabilities of Russian forces as they continue attacking multiple key areas in Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked Deptula during an interview about his thoughts on statements that Russian troops are overestimated as they fall short in achieving goals in Ukraine. Cavuto said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been "humbled, his military has been embarrassed, and he is not up to that expanded fight."

The former general responded: "I make of that the typical U.S...sort of arrogant mirror imaging that tends to go on where U.S. and NATO personnel tend to assume Putin and the Russians think like we do. I don't agree with that kind of perspective. We shouldn't underestimate what the Russians are capable of...but what they may attempt to do."

The retired general added that there are several strategies that can be done to deter Russian forces from moving forward with their goals, which includes the potential deployment of some of the "world's most capable stealthy fighters like the F-22 [fighter jets] to the Baltics and Romania."

"I think the Baltics are very susceptible to further Russian adventurism and due to their proximity, we need to be very careful and send a clear message to Putin to stay out," he said. "I think a way we can do that is by looking at capabilities and stop trying to conduct strategy by counting the number of pairs of boots on the ground."

Deptula noted that if Russia makes any further threats, units of F-35 combat aircrafts could be sent out as part of employing a different strategy when addressing Russian military capabilities.

"These are the kinds of moves that will cause Putin caution and induce uncertainty into his decision calculus," he said. "So any one or all of these actions would stand to regain NATO's position in the deterrence equation."

Deptula added that it was important to understand that Putin's true goal is to restructure the security architecture of Eastern Europe.

"He initiated this effort back in 2014, with the annexing of Crimea and now he's attempting to do the same with Ukraine. He's not going to stop there, so NATO and the United States needs to think ahead," he said.

The former general also stressed that NATO and the U.S. need to provide Ukrainians more tools to help them defend their country "given the situation on the ground."

Ukraine currently has control over most of its areas, however Russian forces continue to besiege major cities such as Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv even though other experts believe that Putin has not secured his true goals.

Last week, U.S. Major General James Marks said during a CNN interview that the Russian military is being "poorly led" and that troops are not "motivated."

"This Russian army that's been trying to modernize over the course of the last couple of decades and it's done a fairly good job of getting the right equipment and capabilities, but they are poorly led," he said. "There's nothing worse in any organization than crappy leadership and that's exactly what the Russians are displaying."

Newsweek contacted the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministries for comment and will update the story once a response is received.

ex-General Warns Against Underestimating Russia
Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula warned against underestimating the Russian military's capabilities as invasion in Ukraine continues. Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the head of Russia's Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, a big business lobby group, at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 2. Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images