The United States is keeping Russia in its sights, after the Pentagon's announcement that units are being put on "higher alert," but "that's not where this avoidable war gets solved," Blaine Holt, a retired Air Force brigadier general and deputy military representative to NATO, said on Newsmax on Tuesday.
"We need to lead with our diplomacy and our diplomacy should have fangs," Holt told Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "We haven't seen those fangs. What troubles me — or worries me — is that there may already be splits and divisions in NATO.
"I just think that there is an entire array of options that the world's most important economies have before them to change the nexus in Moscow, and we need to see those exacted."
He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't "won" anything yet in his country's increasing tensions with Ukraine, but "I guess that he needs to see that we have a presentation of forces and that NATO's making some movements."
"What I think Vladimir Putin definitely understands is that we're very unpredictable in the West, and we can turn on a dime," said Holt. "Just because we seem to be taking one course of action, one that I would not prescribe, we can move in another direction altogether very quickly, and I know his generals apprise him of that."
Meanwhile, Holt said he does think the United States will have to increase its overall defensive force posture in Europe long-term.
"We certainly have the forces that we can bring to bear to make a meaningful commitment on those borders immediately, and I do think we should do so," said Holt. "We are keeping them in a place where they see that we are militarily now moving in their direction, and they need to see that. But that's not where this avoidable war gets solved."
The United States does have troops that are postured to go to Ukraine immediately if Russia were to attack, but they're "not large in number," said Holt. The true "lethal punch" would not involve ground soldiers but attacks from the U.S. Air Force and "in our Space Forces," said Holt.
"These are not trivial impacts and effects that can be brought to bear on the Russian Army, and they well know it," he added.
Holt further commented on the news that France and Germany want to meet with Russia and Ukraine without including the United States in the discussion, saying that the last time something like that happened was before World War II.
He also questioned the decision to move U.S. diplomatic personnel out of Ukraine.
"I'm talking to individuals on the ground there," said Holt. "Ukrainian leaders are doing their best to reassure their population … I think we should all start looking at what would the effects of war look like from a refugee crisis standpoint in Western Europe. It will be incalculable, and we need to hold folks accountable."
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