“There was a tremendous amount of suffering,” Milly said.
The Pentagon did not say how it counted the number of casualties and could not be independently verified by the Washington Post. The latest official figure from the Russian Defense Ministry in September put the Russian death toll at 5,937 – which military experts and Western officials say greatly underestimates the country’s losses.
Ukraine has not published any number of casualties for its forces. President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed in an interview with CNN earlier this week that Russia’s casualty rate is 10 times higher than Ukraine’s.
Kyiv officials were quick to contest Milley’s assessment on Thursday. “We have losses and every soul lost is a tragedy,” said Yury Sak, an adviser to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. “But our casualties are lower because we don’t use meat mincer tactics, and our priority is to save soldiers’ lives.”
However, Pentagon numbers indicate the ferocity of the battles raging along a vast 1,000-mile front line that winds around the eastern edges of Ukraine. Much of the fighting takes place from World War I-style trenches where soldiers dug into muddy fortifications enduring relentless artillery until they were forced to retreat.
Casualty estimates indicate that during the 260 days of the war, an average of 769 soldiers were killed or wounded each day.
According to Department of Defense statistics, the losses on each side would be twice the nearly 60,000 Americans killed or wounded during the 20-year war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than twice the number of dead and wounded suffered by the Soviet Union in ten years. General war in Afghanistan.
Nearly 70,000 Afghan soldiers and 50,000 civilians have been killed over two decades of fighting with the US-backed coalition. However, these numbers pale in comparison to the figures from Ukraine.
Other recent wars have been bloody – but over a longer period of time, civilians have borne the brunt of the suffering. In Syria, the United Nations estimated that 400,000 people died in the first five years of the war, the vast majority of whom were noncombatants.
Milley indicated that Russia’s announcement on Wednesday of its withdrawal from Kherson and the approaching winter may provide an opportunity for negotiations. The Biden administration and other Western allies have tried this recently Ukraine pay To consider talks with Russia.
The winter months, when temperatures in Ukraine routinely drop below freezing, are likely to bring a pause in fighting as Russia seeks to regroup and reorganize, providing an “opportunity for negotiation,” Milley said.
He added, “There must be a mutual recognition that perhaps a military victory, in the truest sense of the word, may not be achieved through military means, and therefore you need to resort to other means.”
But Ukraine’s recent sweep of victories, through Kharkiv in the northeast in September and now in Kherson To the south did not leave Kyiv in the mood for negotiations. Ukrainian officials say they are confident they can achieve a complete military victory over Russia on the battlefield, and Zelensky has set preconditions for negotiations, including a full Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory and a promise of reparations — terms that Russia will likely never accept.
Milley said the United States will continue to support Ukraine until its demands are met. “The United States will continue to support Ukraine and its struggle for freedom,” he said. “If the negotiations happen, that’s great. If they don’t, they will probably keep fighting until spring.”
As indicated by the Kremlin open to conversationsbut its preconditions conflict with those of Ukraine: after Russia illegally annexed four regions Ukraine, Putin said The “only way to peace” is for the West and Ukraine to realize that the inhabitants of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia “became our citizens forever.”
Milley said that despite their major differences, the two sides should strive to end the fighting.
“When peace can be achieved, seize it,” he said He said. “Hold on to the moment.”
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