Former NATO Commander 'Quite Concerned' Putin Won't Stop at Ukraine

Former NATO commander James Stavridis warned Sunday he is "quite concerned" Russian President Vladimir Putin will not stop his invasion after Ukraine.

The invasion of Ukraine sparked concerns among some world leaders that Putin could potentially move on to other countries if his Ukraine offensive proves to be successful. Stavridis, a former four-star admiral, voiced these concerns during an appearance on MSNBC Sunday morning.

He warned that Putin "has his gun sights" on several countries that were previously part of the Soviet Union, but are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) including Moldova, Kazakhstan and Belarus—though Belarus is already a close Putin ally and has even agreed to host Russia's nuclear weapons inside its borders.

"That's where he goes next," he said. "I worry about that a lot." However, he said he does not believe Putin would attack NATO members including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania due to the strength of NATO.

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

Stavridis said he believes the NATO strength—including their advantages in spending, ground troops and combat aircraft—would also deter Putin from using nuclear weapons. Still, he warned against the devastating impact the "normalization" of the invasion would have on global politics.

"We haven't seen behavior like this between nations since the 1930s. If we normalize it, the cascade effect of authoritarian states crossing borders to conquer territories will thrust us back into the times of the ancient Romans," he said. "We don't want to go there."

Other leaders and experts raised similar concerns in the wake of the invasion. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said during a press conference last month that "the battle for Ukraine is a battle for Europe."

"If Putin is not stopped there, he will go further," he said, according to the Associated Press.

Tensions between Russia and NATO states remained tense as the invasion into Ukraine continued Sunday. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged "very credible" reports of Russian war crimes, including "deliberate" attacks on Ukrainian civilians.

In Ukraine, attempts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol again ended after alleged shelling from Russia—despite the two countries agreeing to an 11-hour cease-fire to allow the humanitarian corridor, according to the AP, while an attack on a pipeline left more than 750,000 Ukrainians without heat in the Donetsk-Mariupol region.

President Voldomyr Zelensky continued pushing NATO countries, including the U.S., to send more warplanes to help defend their country—an idea that has bipartisan support among lawmakers. Businesses including Netflix and American Express joined the list of companies that are suspending service in Russia to put economic pressure on Putin to end the invasion as well.

Russia could invade other countries: James Stavridis
James Stavridis, above, said he is “quite concerned” that Russian President Vladimir Putin will invade other countries including Moldova, Kazakhstan and Belarus during an MSNBC appearance Sunday. Leigh Vogel/FilmMagic/Getty Images