US Chief of Staff comments on Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson

(CNN) — The US Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, said on Wednesday that Russia has lost more than 100,000 soldiers who were killed or wounded as a result of the war in Ukraine, and added that the Ukrainian army may have lost the same number.

General Mark Milley, speaking at the Economic Club of New York, described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “a colossal strategic mistake that you will pay for for years and years and years to come.”

The war, which began in late February, “has caused an enormous amount of human suffering, including the exodus of between 15 and 30 million refugees and the deaths of some 40,000 innocent Ukrainian civilians,” Milley said.

“There are more than 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded, and the same is probably on the Ukrainian side,” he said.

He stated that there may be an opportunity to negotiate an end to the conflict if the situation on the front lines of the fighting stabilizes during the winter. “When there is an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved, seize it,” Milley said.

If negotiations do not occur or fail, the US general said, “the United States will continue to arm Ukraine, even though an outright military victory for either side appears increasingly unlikely.”

He continued: “There must be a mutual recognition that the military victory may be in the true sense of the word may not be achieved through military means, and therefore you need to resort to other means.”

General Milley said the United States was seeing initial indications that Russia had already withdrawn from Kherson, but added that the withdrawal of 20,000 to 30,000 Russian troops could take days or even weeks.

He continued, “I think they are doing this in order to maintain their strength, and to re-establish defensive lines south of the river, but that is not yet clear, and at the moment, the initial indications are that they are doing what they say they are doing and we are seeing those indications.”

It is noteworthy that the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, ordered, earlier on Wednesday, the withdrawal of Russian forces from the western bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, according to Russian state media.

The decision comes at a time when Ukrainian forces are advancing towards the city of Kherson from two directions.

The Russian withdrawal is the most significant military development since Ukrainian forces invaded the northern Kharkiv region in September.

Kherson is the first major Ukrainian city occupied by Russia since the invasion in February, and it is also the only regional capital that Russia has captured since the invasion in February.

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