On Wednesday, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley testified before Congress. President Joe Biden’s senior military adviser offered some excellent insight into the war in Ukraine and the situation on the ground.
Despite more than 13 months of war, the Russian military hasn’t not only gotten stuck in Ukraine but has lost an unimaginable number of troops in the process.
The War in Ukraine
The top U.S. military officer provided a strategic view of the conflict. The Ukrainians are withstanding the Russian blows and controlling the impact of Moscow’s large-scale offensive operation in the Donbas.
“[The] Ukrainians are doing a very effective area defense that has proven to be very costly to the Russians,” Milley said.
“The Ukrainians have fought very, very well. That’s also true across the entire frontline trace from Kreminna all the way down to Kherson. The Ukrainians have fought a remarkable defensive fight and the Russians have not achieved their strategic objectives,” the top U.S. officer added.
In the battle for Bakhmut, the Ukrainian forces have managed to turn the town into graveyard for the Russian military but especially for the mercenaries of the infamous Wagner Group, who are leading the fight.
“For about the last 20, 21 days, the Russians have not made any progress whatsoever. So, it’s a slaughter-fest for the Russians. They’re getting hammered in the vicinity of Bakhmut,” Milley stated.
Western intelligence estimates assess that the Russian forces have lost between 20,000 to 30,000 troops just in the vicinity of Bakhmut. And yet, despite all the rage and fury, the Russian forces have managed to achieve very little on the ground in Ukraine.
“Putin’s war of choice has caused untold human suffering and terrorized a free country and its people. Putin attempted to seize Kyiv, overthrow its government, and fracture the NATO alliance. NATO remains more unified than ever, and Ukraine remains free and independent,” Milley stated.
In Support of Ukraine
Gen. Milley took the opportunity to reiterate America’s support for the Ukrainian people and their existential struggle.
“In response to this Russian war of choice, we are supporting Ukraine as it fights to protect its sovereignty and supporting our NATO allies with a United States force presence in every single nation on NATO’s eastern flank,” Milley said.
The U.S. is by far the single-largest contributor of military, humanitarian, and economic aid to Ukraine. In the military category alone, the U.S. has sent or committed to sending weapon systems worth more than $33 billion. The majority of this security aid has come from the stocks of the U.S. military under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, whereas the rest concerns brand-new weapon systems that the U.S. is buying for Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).
The latest packages of military aid to Ukraine include M1126 Stryker armored fighting vehicles, M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks—which are due to arrive in Ukraine later in the year.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.