How Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territory escalates conflict

ABC News’ Mary Bruce spoke with ABC News contributor and retired Col. Steve Ganyard about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territory.
4:57 | 09/30/22

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Transcript for How Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territory escalates conflict
 EVERY SINGLE INCH OF NEAR NATO TERRITORY. EVERY SINGLE INCH. SO, MR. PUTIN, DO NOT TO MISUNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING. EVERY INCH. >> I'M JOINED BY ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, RETIRED COLONEL, THE FORMER AND DEFENSE STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE WITH US, AS WE TRY TO UNPACK THIS, MAKING SENSE OF WHAT WE SAW TODAY. NATO SECRETARY GENERAL, CALLING THIS ANNEXATION BY PUTIN, QUOT, THE MOST SERIOUS ESCALATION SINCE THE START OF THIS WAR. PUT IT INTO CONTEXT FOR US. HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS? >> IT'S BIG FROM A NATO PERSPECTIVE, AND FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD. PUTIN IS GONE IN, TAKING LAND THAT IS NOT HIS, HE HAS CONDUCTED A REFERENDUM, THE NUMBERS WERE JAMMED UP, AND THE PEOPLE OF CONCORD NOW DON'T WANT HIM THERE. FROM A NATO PERSPECTIVE, THIS IS NOW RUSSIA. NATO, SUPPORTING UKRAINE, AND THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THAT PUTIN SAID TODAY. THIS PART OF UKRAINE, MIGHT AS WELL BE PART OF MOSCOW. IT IS RUSSIA, AND OR DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO DEFEND THAT TERRITORY. THE SECOND SCARY THING HE SAID, IS THE U.S. YOU COLOR WEAPONS IN HIROSHIMA, DID IT FIRST. SAYING, IF I WANT TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS, I AM JUSTIFIED WITH THIS TERRITORY, IN THE U.S. DID IT FIRST. >> BEFORE WE GET TO THAT, THEY CONSIDER AS RUSSIA, AND MOSCOW. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE FIGHT ON THE GROUND? >> IT HAS CHANGED MUCH. IT HAS BECOME A SLOW FIGHT. THEY CAN GO UP TO NORTH WORTH A TOWN CALLED LAYMAN TO A STRATEGIC CITY, COMING INTO THE DONBAS, THAT THEY'RE VERY CLOSE TO TAKING. ON THE GROUND, IT CONTINUES TO BE THIS GRINDING FIGHT, AND THEY CONTINUE TO RECRUIT IN THE MILITARY, TO REINFORCE THOSE FRONT LINES, BUT ON THE GROUND, NOT MUCH OF A CHANGE FOR THE TACTICAL SITUATION. >> YOU WOULD SHOULD PUTIN SABER-RATTLING TODAY. IS THIS TOP, AND DOES THE U.S. NEED TO BE CONSIDERING THIS MORE SERIOUSLY? >> THE U.S. HAS, SAID IT IS A BLUFF. >> HE SAYS HE'S NOT BLUFFING. >> RIGHT, HE DOES. IF THE U.S. CONSIDERS A BLUFF, IT'S WHEN SOMEONE HAS NO INTENTION OF USING IT. I THINK HE DOES HAVE INTENTION TO USE IT. I'M NOT SAYING THAT HE WILL, BUT I'M SAYING THAT THE RISK OF A NUCLEAR WEAPON BEING USED TO IS GONE FROM 10% TWO WEEKS AGO, TO SOMEWHERE AROUND 25. THE RUSSIAN MILITARY, ROUTINEL, ROUTINES WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS. THEY DON'T CONSIDER IT A STRATEGIC WEAPON, THE WAY THE, WESTERN ANY NUCLEAR COUNTRY USES. TO THEM, IT'S A BIGGER BOOM ON THE BATTLEFIELD, BUT FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD, IT IS A HORRIFYING STEP TOWARDS ARMAGEDDON. >> LET'S TALK ABOUT THE HOW THE U.S. RESPONSE. SO FAR, WE HAVE SEEN THESE CRIPPLING SANCTIONS, BUT CLEARLY, THERE HASN'T BEEN ENOUGH TO DETER PUTIN. SO, WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO CHANGE PUTIN'S BEHAVIOR, AND WILL MORE SANCTIONS CUT IT? >> IN SOME WAYS, IT SEEMS LIKE, HOW THEY TALK ABOUT HOW HE'S BEEN BACKING HIMSELF INTO A CORNER, BUT HE'S WALLEN HIM SELF INTO A CORNER. IT IS HARD TO SEE ANY OFF-RAMP. WE TALK ABOUT THIS IDEA OF A RUSSIAN STRATEGY, ESCALATING, DE-ESCALATING, MAKING THE SITUATION WORSE, SO YOU CAN COME TO A COMPROMISE. PERHAPS THAT'S WHAT HE'S DOING, PERHAPS THAT'S WHAT HE'S THREATENING TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS, BUT RIGHT NOW, NO VISION OF WHERE PUTIN'S OFF-RAMP RIGHT KNEE. >> NO GOOD OFF-RAMP. WHAT WE ARE SEEING ON THE GROUND, OF COURSE, ARE THOUSANDS OF RUSSIANS FLEEING. WE HAVE SEEN THESE VIDEOS. THEY ARE RESPONDING TO PUTIN'S DRAFT. NOW, WHERE IS PUTIN STANDING IN HIS OWN COUNTRY? IS THERE A REAL THREAT TO HIM BEING ABLE TO KEEP HIS OWN PEOPLE BEHIND HIM ON THIS? >> TO BE DETERMINED. TIME NEEDS TO PLAY OUT. OBVIOUSLY, HE IS LOSING PUBLIC SUPPORT, IF YOU LOOK AT THAT RALLY IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE TODAY WHERE HE'S YELLING RUSSI, RUSSIA, RUSSIA. EVERYBODY IS OVER 70, AND WAVING FLAGS HALFHEARTEDLY. IS EVERYBODY BEHIND HIM? DOES EVERYBODY BELIEVE THIS WAR NEEDS TO GO TO THE DEGREE OF CONSCRIPTION HE IS GOING TO HAVE, TO WIN ON THE BATTLEFIEL? HARD TO SAY? HE HAS CERTAINLY PUT HIMSELF IN A PLACE WHERE HE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE, AND A PHYSICAL FUTURE WILL BE IN JEOPARDY. >> HUAWEI PRESIDENT-ELECT SKI TODAY, WITH FAST-TRACK NATO MEMBERSHIP, IT WAS IN THE NATO APPLICATION MOVING FORWARD AS THEY THREATENED WATER CONFLICT HERE? >> PUTIN WENT INTO UKRAINE, TO PREVENT UKRAINE FROM GETTING CLOSER TO THE WEST. THIS IS THE WORST OUTCOME. IT'S WHAT PUTIN DIDN'T WANT TO HAPPEN. FINLAND JOIN NATO, SWEDEN HAS JOIN NATO, HE HAS UKRAINE JOINING THE EU, WHICH WOULD BE TO THEIR BENEFIT, AND NOW HE HAS THEM APPLY FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. EVERYTHING HE DID TO GO, INTO CONCORD, TO REESTABLISH THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE, IS NOW GOING WRONG. >> THEY HAVE RUSSIA'S HOPES THAT THIS WOULD SPLINTER THE WEST, CERTAINLY, NOT COMING TO FRUITION. QUITE THE

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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