The war in Ukraine is clearly a bloody affair. And some in the U.S. military think it won’t end anytime soon: Gen. Mark Milley told Congress on Tuesday that he believed the Russia-Ukraine war would be a “very protracted” conflict.
While testifying about the White House’s 2023 budget request, Milley told the House Armed Services Committee that the fighting in Ukraine was likely to go on for “years.”
“It’s a bit early, still, even though we’re a month plus into the war. There is much of the ground war left in Ukraine, but I do think this is a very protracted conflict. And I think it’s at least measured in years,” said Milley, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I don’t know about a decade, but at least years for sure,” he added.
“This is a very extended conflict that Russia has initiated, and I think that NATO, the United States, Ukraine, and all of the allies and partners that are supporting Ukraine are going to be involved in this for quite some time,” said Milley.
He also told Congress that invading Ukraine had been “a long-standing objective” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Milley noted that deterring Putin from his objective would require the use of US military forces and risked armed conflict with Russia — a move he said he “wouldn’t advise.”
In his testimony, Milley said the “potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not decreasing,” calling the invasion of Ukraine the “greatest threat to peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world” that he has seen in his decades serving in the military.
Milley added that the US would likely be increasing the presence of its troops in the region in the long term.
“It’s a good deterrent,” Milley said. “My advice would be to create permanent bases, but don’t permanently station, so you get the effect of permanence by rotational forces, cycling through permanent bases.”
This, he noted, would not incur the cost of moving families and housing them abroad at permanent military bases in Europe.
On Saturday, the US Department of Defense announced that it would be giving Ukraine an additional $300 million in weapons and medical aid and that it would help transfer Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine to boost the country’s defenses.
Cheryl is a senior breaking news reporter based in Insider’s Singapore bureau, where she covers everything from major military and political shifts in the region to developments in pop culture and social media.