Former CIA director: Russian forces resorting to barbaric attacks on civilian infrastructure

General David Petraeus said Russian forces are increasingly resorting to "barbaric" attacks on civilian infrastructure

Russian forces are resorting to "increasingly barbaric, heinous, often reckless attacks on civilian infrastructure", the former director of the CIA has told told ITV News.

General David Petraeus, who was the CIA director under Barack Obama, said that Moscow's advance has been frustrated by a heavy Ukrainian resistance and Russia has shown an inability to combine ground and air operations to meet strategic goals.

But he did acknowledge the Russians have made gains in the south of Ukraine, which includes the capturing of Kherson, a port city of 300,000.

"The Russians have been resorting to increasingly barbaric, heinous, often reckless attacks on civilian infrastructure," he told ITV News Presenter Tom Bradby in a wide ranging interview.

Ukraine's State Emergency Service said 2,000 civilians have died in a week of war with Russia, though independent confirmation is not possible.

Following attacks on civilians areas, which Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy labelled “frank, undisguised terror”, the International Criminal Court announced it was opening an investigation into possible war crimes.

General David Petraeus was the former CIA director and the ex US commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Credit: ITV News

The retired US army general said he doubts Russian forces can continue to control seized areas, as their aggressive strikes against civilian areas has fermented hatred against Putin among ordinary Ukrainians.

"I do not know how in the world they control Ukraine given that the entire population at this point absolutely loathes them and many of the adults in the population - female as well as male - are willing to take action against them," General Petraeus said.

"Whether it is Molotov cocktails, taking up a rifle, supporting the military in some fashion."

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David Petraeus said that Russia's attack on Europe's biggest nuclear power plant was another example of the Kremlin disregarding the normal rules of engagement in war.

But the retired US army general added that he is thankful the engineers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the eastern city of Enerhodar have the situation under control.

"It was unbelievably reckless, it was crazy, it was foolish, it was dumb," he said.

"Thankfully, that particular battle is over. The engineers are still in control of that plant. It didn't melt down."

People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to Kyiv. Credit: ITV News

General Petraeus said he was confident covert tactics were being explored by his former colleagues in Washington.

He said that a so-called guerrilla insurgency - which typically involves surprise attacks and an avoidance of open battle with the enemy - could be conducted if Ukraine forces can maintain control of part of the country.

"There are covert action options that I am confident are being explored by my old comrades," the retired US army general told ITV News.

"It does help enormously if they can control part of the country so that the resistance comes from that part and so that assistance can be provided on the ground, presumably, into that part of Ukraine, from which the guerrilla insurgent campaign could be conducted."