Top US general highlights significant hurdles for Ukraine in removing Russian forces

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The United States’ highest-ranking military officer said Sunday that while Ukraine’s counteroffensive has not “failed,” the country’s broader goal of ousting Russian forces from its territory faces a “very high bar.”

General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also defended US weapons assistance being sent to Kyiv, saying Washington is doing its best and cannot just boost Ukraine’s battlefield power by sprinkling “magic dust.”

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Milley said that while the current counteroffensive by Ukraine was “slower than the planners had anticipated, it has been steady.”

“I know there’s some commentary out there that somehow this offensive has failed. It hasn’t failed,” Milley said, adding that Ukraine has “a lot of combat power remaining. The Ukrainians are not a spent force.”

However, when it comes to the likelihood of achieving more ambitious goals such as reaching the southern coast and recapturing the city of Mariupol, Milley said he didn’t want to “make a prediction.”

He said that the overall strategy of liberating all Ukrainian territory from occupation and managing to “completely kick out all the Russians” is “going to be a very significant effort.”

“It’ll take a considerable length of time to militarily eject all 200,000 or plus Russian troops out of Russian-occupied Ukraine. That’s a very high bar. It’s going to take a long time to do it.”

Milley defended the rate at which the US has been providing weapons and other aid to Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion began in February 2022.

Despite criticism -- including from inside Ukraine -- that the US government is dragging its feet, Milley said some $40 billion in weapons and $100 billion in overall aid was “extraordinarily generous.”

The speed of deliveries, however, is governed by logistics and “how fast they can absorb it. So, it’s not just, sprinkle magic dust and the stuff starts showing up.

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