Putin knows he's made a 'grave mistake' invading Ukraine but will never admit it, says former NATO commander

Russia president Vladimir Putin is shown looking down and touching his nose while military salute in the background.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacts during the Navy Day Parade, on July 31, 2022, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.Contributor/Getty Images

  • Putin likely realizes he's made a mistake invading Ukraine, a former NATO leader said.

  • "I think he knows it in his heart, he'll never admit it publicly," said James G. Stavridis.

  • Russia is "blowing through" military capability and can't keep it up, Stavridis said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin likely regrets invading Ukraine but will never admit it, said former NATO leader James Stavridis.

Stavridis, who was NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 2009 to 2013, spoke of the invasion in a radio show on Saturday.

Stavridis was a guest on "The Cats Roundtable" on WABC New York, a show hosted by grocery-store billionaire John Catsimatidis, who also owns WABC.

Asked whether Putin knew the invasion of Ukraine was a mistake, Stavridis said: "I think in the dark, quiet hours at two o'clock in the morning when he wakes up, he realizes he's made a mistake. Publicly, he'll never admit that. Never."

Stavridis said Putin would maintain the "fiction" that Neo-Nazis run Ukraine and that he was forced into the conflict by NATO, rather than choosing to invade.

But, he said, Putin knows he is responsible for the invasion, the sanctions, and the military pushback.

"I think he knows it in his heart, he'll never admit it publicly," he said.

Putin is "burning through capability" in Russia's military, per Stavridi.

"I'd say, six months from now, he's going to be in very dire straits," Stavridis said, at which point he speculated that negotiations could begin.

According to the Pentagon, Russia has suffered as many as 80,000 casualties. In the interview, Stavridis put that number closer to 70,000 killed and wounded.

His comments came as reports have highlighted seemingly desperate tactics from Russia to replenish its ranks, including offering freedom to prisoners who enlist, as well as substantial cash bonuses for others who join up.

Sanctions levied against Russia by Western countries have also taken their toll, sending its economy back to 2018 levels, Insider previously reported.

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