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Milley says Ukraine victory over Russia unlikely this year

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview that it is unlikely that Ukraine will score a decisive victory over Russia, even as Kyiv deploys increasingly powerful western weapons 14 months into the war.

In an interview with Defense One published Friday, Milley said it will be a “very difficult military task” for Ukraine’s armed forces to push out tens of thousands of Russian soldiers from occupied areas of the country. 

“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,” Milley told the publication. “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.”

“I don’t think it’s likely to be done in the near term for this year,” Milley said of a sweeping Ukrainian victory.

Milley also discussed requests from Ukrainian officials for the U.S. to send ATACMS missiles, which have a range of 190 miles and could allow Kyiv to target the Black Sea Fleet headquarters on the Crimean peninsula.

So far, the U.S. has declined those requests, saying it the weapons it has already provided are powerful enough, according to the New York Times. 

“Well, there’s a policy decision to date not to, so far,” Milley told Defense One. “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.”

Milley has also raised concerns over the depleting U.S. weapons stockpiles as factoring into the Biden administration’s decisions about arming Ukraine.

He told the House Armed Services Committee last week that the U.S. “has a long ways to go” to beef up its munitions stockpiles and ensure the country is ready for any large-scale war, saying that the Russia-Ukraine war underscored the heavy use of military weapons in any war. 

“If there was a war on the Korean peninsula or great power war between the United States and Russia or the United States and China, the consumption rates would be off the charts,” Milley said last week.

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