Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he fears more “organized” brutality from Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Gen. Aleksandr Dvornikov to lead its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Clapper, who is now a national security analyst for CNN, noted the general’s track record in Syria — Dvornikov has been called the “Butcher of Syria” — during a conversations with host Fredricka Whitfield.
“Well, I think that it means more of the same and maybe be more organized brutality, if there’s such a thing,” Clapper told Whitfield, noting his appointment was an “indicator of problems that the Russians have and apparently now the hierarchy understands that.”
“And the other significant point, apart from the reputation for brutality that this general has, is the fact that apparently they’re putting some one general in charge of the whole operation, which hasn’t been the case in the past, which has contributed to the many problems that the Russians have had,” Clapper added.
Putin reportedly appointed Dvornikov to be in charge of the Ukraine invasion on Saturday, soon after Russian forces withdrew from areas around Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv and as its military is regrouping for an assault on the eastern Donbas region.
Dvornikov, commander of the country’s southern district military, led Russian forces in Syria, where Western officials and human right organization condemned his tactics, which included targeting hospitals and residential neighborhoods.
When Whitfield asked how the world will respond if Russia intensifies its attacks on Ukraine, Clapper said the international community’s “threshold of pain” before taking a “more activist” approach was yet to be seen but added that he did not see Russia’s dominance as a foregone conclusion, even as it focuses its attacks on the east.
“I really question just how ready the Russians are, how much combat power … they actually have to mount an offensive in eastern Ukraine, which by the way is, that’s an ambient war, if you will, that’s been going on since 2014,” Clapper said. “So the Ukrainians are pretty familiar with the territory and how to fight the Russians there.”