Ukraine is unlikely to expel all Russian forces from its territory this year, the top U.S. officer said Friday, giving a grim reality check to the expressed goal and hopeful ambitions of policymakers, diplomats, and defense leaders from Washington to Kyiv., APA reports citing Defence One.
“I don't think it's likely to be done in the near term for this year,” Gen. Mark Milley said Friday in an interview with Defense One.
“Zelenskyy has publicly stated many times that the Ukrainian objective is to kick every Russian out of Russian occupied Ukraine. And that is a significant military task. Very, very difficult military task. You're looking at a couple hundred thousand Russians who are still in Russian-occupied Ukraine. I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm just saying it's a very difficult task,” the Joint Chiefs chairman said. “But that is their objective. They certainly have a right to that, that is their country. And they are on the moral high ground here.”
In November, Milley said in a press conference that the probability Ukraine was going to retake Crimea and expel all Russian forces “anytime soon is not high.” His comment stirred speculation that the United States was pressuring Zelenskyy toward negotiating territorial concessions with Russia.
On Friday, Milley said Russia “has failed” strategically, operationally, “and now they’re failing tactically, as well.” That followed his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee that Russian forces were “getting slaughtered” by Ukrainian troops, due in part to poor training and human-wave tactics.
Milley was asked whether the ATACMS long-range missile would become the latest advanced weapon initially withheld from and later sent to Ukraine.
“Well, there's a policy decision to date not to, so far. And I would never predict anything on the table, off the table, for the future. But from a military standpoint, we have relatively few ATACMS, we do have to make sure that we maintain our own munitions inventories, as well. And the range of the weapon—I think there's a little bit of overstating of what an ATACMS can do and can't do. You're looking at a single shot, so think of a musket versus a repeating rifle. Whereas the GMLRS fires six shots, and ATACMs fires one. Now the range of the ATACMS is longer, but there's other systems they can get you that range. There’s UAVs, for example, that could do it, and the Brits have a couple of systems. So, those are some things that we're looking at to give them a little bit more legs. But right now, we're not providing the ATACMs.”