The frustration was clear in the sometimes salty words of retired Gen. Russel Honoré on Monday as he implored the United States and NATO to "get its big boy pants on" and give serious military aid to Ukraine.
Honoré, appearing on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," told host Nicolle Wallace that he is "encouraged by the courage and tenacity of Ukrainian people," whose overmatched army has held off the Russian invasion for five days.
But, he added, "I'm in awe that the industrialized world, NATO, and the U.N. haven't been more active in helping with the intake of the people."
Evacuees at the Polish border are forced to wait outdoors in the cold to be processed, he said.
"In a disaster, you have to evacuate people; the mission changes to life saving," he continued. "Right now, the people at the border have a culture of wanting to check your papers."
On the Ukrainian side, men are being checked to assure they are not of the 18- to 60-year-old range required to stay in the country to fight, further holding up the process.
The International Red Cross, U.N., and other groups need to move in with tents and other aid to help in the process, said Honoré, who led the recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
"I've watched on TV with dismay, women with little babies walking six miles, waiting eight hours to get to a border guard to show them their passport," he said. "We need to change some of the rules. I've always said, in a crisis, the first thing you do is figure out what damn rules you're going to break, and they need to open those borders up so people can get out. I suspect we'll end up with 10 to 15 million people evacuating, and at this pace, it's not going to happen."
As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has moved to nuclear threats since his original invasion plans have bogged down and the West has united against him on sanctions, Honoré said the hope is "Putin's generals will take care of him."
But if Putin does continue his siege and begin to have an effect, NATO needs to take action before he destroys the capital of Kyiv or other major cities, Honoré said.
"NATO needs to get its big boy pants on and say, 'hey, if you do this, we are going to create a no-fly zone; we're going to take your capacity from you; we're going to put some Iron Domes [missile defense systems] in there; we're going to put some damn Patriots [missiles] to give … to Ukraine,'" he added.
NATO is acting as if it is scared of Russia, he said, yet the nuclear threat of the old Soviet Union is the very reason NATO was created.
"You better put some damn conditions in there. The world is watching," he said. "NATO needs to stop apologizing about they're not going to fight. They better get damn ready to fight."
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