The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, has delivered a sobering assessment of Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive against Russia, suggesting that it may only have a matter of weeks left to continue its fight. However, this projection isn’t tied to the possibility of victory but rather the changing seasons.
Ukraine’s Race Against Time: U.S. General Predicts 45 Days Left in Counteroffensive
In an interview on Sunday, September 10, Gen. Milley acknowledged Ukraine’s steady progress, stating, “The Ukrainians are still plugging away with steady progress.” He estimated that Ukraine has “probably about 30 to 45 days’ worth of fighting weather left, so the Ukrainians aren’t done… they haven’t finished the fighting part of what they’re trying to accomplish.”
Critics of Ukraine’s spring-summer offensive have noted that it has progressed slowly, but Gen. Milley expected this pace from the outset. He emphasized that the conflict would be “long, slow, hard, and high-casualty-producing,” which, he said, is precisely what it has been.
In contrast, Britain’s Chief of Defense Staff, Adm. Sir Tony Radakin, offered a more optimistic view, asserting, “Ukraine is winning and Russia is losing.” Radakin estimated that Ukraine has recaptured approximately half of the territory seized by Russia when its “special military operation” began in February 2022.
One of Ukraine’s key objectives is the city of Melitopol, where Russian control of Crimea could be effectively split in two. Analysts noted that it took Ukraine until November 11 of the previous year to reclaim the town of Kherson.
Despite the approaching winter weather, Ukrainian military leaders remain determined. Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov asserted, “The fighting will continue one way or another.”
The future of the conflict may hinge on an upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim’s reported departure for Russia has been widely covered, with reports suggesting he’s traveling on a “pleasure train.”
Adm. Radakin sees this potential summit as a sign of Russian desperation, pointing out that Russia lacks a significant number of international partners, has seen half a million people flee the country, and has another million who wish to leave—a considerable number given Russia’s estimated population of 144 million.
The human cost of the 19-month conflict is staggering, with an estimated 300,000 Russian military personnel and 200,000 Ukrainian personnel losing their lives, according to CBS News.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has emphasized the need for more powerful Western weapons to sustain the attack. However, Gen. Milley suggests that the ultimate resolution may depend on how long the citizens of both Russia and Ukraine are willing to endure such a high death toll. He described the intensity of the conflict as unparalleled, even in his extensive military experience.