Top US general: Removing Russia from Ukraine a ‘very high bar’
Army Gen. Mark Milley said a quick outcome to the war in Ukraine is unlikely, noting that a Ukrainian victory in the conflict is a “very high bar” and would take a “very long time.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has resisted negotiating a peace with Russia since the country’s invasion began more than a year and a half ago, citing unserious terms from Moscow. He said the best outcome would be to remove Russia from all Ukrainian territory.
Milley, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is retiring from his post at the end of this month, said that objective won’t be possible, however, in the country’s current counteroffensive.
“There’s well over 200,000 Russian troops in Russian-occupied Ukraine. This offensive, although significant, has operational and tactical objectives that are limited, in the sense that they do not — even if they are fully achieved — they don’t completely kick out all the Russians, which is the broader strategic objective that President Zelensky had,” Milley said in a CNN interview Sunday.
“That’s going to take a long time to do that. That’s going to be very significant effort over a considerable amount of time,” he continued.
He refused to say exactly how long he believes it will take, citing the changing aspects of war, but he doubted that the conflict will end any time soon.
“I can tell you that it’ll take a considerable length of time to militarily eject all 200,000 or plus Russian troops out of Russian-occupied Ukraine,” he said. “That’s a very high bar. It’s going to take a long time to do it.”
Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive has made slow progress against Russian lines in the country’s east.
That slow pace has worried Western allies, and Milley has previously both defended the Ukrainian effort and said its success will require patience.
“This is going to be long; it’s going to be hard; it’s going to be bloody,” Milley said in July, adding that the effort “is far from a failure, in my view.”
“That’s a different war on paper and real war,” Milley said. “These are real people in real machines that are out there really clearing real minefields and they’re really dying. So when that happens, units tend to slow down … in order to survive, in order to get through.”
** Russian air attack on Ukraine's Lviv injures one, sparks fire - Ukraine's officials
Western Ukrainian city of Lviv was rocked by blasts in the early hours on Tuesday, with local officials saying the Russian air attack injured one man and caused a major fire at an industrial warehouse.
"A woman and a man were found under the rubble in Lviv. According to preliminary information, the woman was not injured. The man is in a serious condition," Lviv's region Governor Maxim Kozitsky said on the Telegram messaging app.
Reuters could not independently verify the report. The scale of the attack and full extent of the damage was not immediately known. There was no immediate comment from Russia.
Lviv city mayor Andriy Sadovyi said air raid alerts for the region were called off after nearly three hours at around 0300 GMT.
Since the start of the war in February 2022, Russia has carried out countless attacks on Ukraine's territory far away from the front lines, aiming at destroying infrastructure critical to Kyiv's defence, energy and agriculture.
But the New York Times reported late on Monday that a reported Russian attack that killed at least 17 people earlier this month in a crowded market in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka, appeared to be a "tragic mishap" on Ukraine's part.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy condemned the attack at the time, saying Russia was behind it.
"Evidence collected and analyzed by The New York Times, including missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests the catastrophic strike was the result of an errant Ukrainian air defense missile fired by a Buk launch system," the newspaper reported.
Reuters could not verify the report. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine or Russia.
Situation in Russian economy better than previously projected on some key figures — Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the economic situation on a number of key indicators is better than projected earlier.
"I would like to say at once that on a number of key indicators the situation is much better than previously projected," he said at a meeting on draft federal budget for 2024-2026.
Despite negative forecasts, Russia’s GDP may grow by 2.8% by the end of the year, Putin said. "Back in April this year’s GDP growth was expected at 1.2%. Initially some even projected [GDP] contraction, though later the outlook was adjusted to 1.2% growth, though in fact we have already surpassed this mark, and GDP growth may reach 2.5% by the end of the year, maybe even up to 2.8%," the president added.
Russia’s economy has coped with an unprecedented external pressure and fully recovered, with the country’s GDP having reached the level of 2021, Putin noted.
"Overall it is safe to say that the stage of recovery of the Russian economy is over. We coped with an absolutely unprecedented external pressure, the sanctions pressure of some ruling elites in the so-called Western bloc, some ruling elites in certain countries that we call unfriendly," he said, adding that "Russia’s GDP has reached the level of 2021."
Moreover, Russian President has tasked the government and the Central Bank with taking measures to support the national currency.
"Obviously one of the main problems is related to inflation acceleration now, with the ruble’s weakening being clearly the key factor here," he said.
"It is necessary to clearly understand its reasons and take timely measures. I am confident that the government, the Central Bank will work professionally," Putin noted.
** Russian Su-34 hits Ukrainian brigade’s deployment point in Kupyansk direction
The Russian Battlegroup West’s Su-34 fighter-bomber delivered a strike on a temporary dislocation point of Ukraine’s 103rd territorial defense brigade in the Kupyansk direction, Battlegroup Spokesman Sergey Zybinsky told TASS.
"During combat in the Kupyansk area, the crew of a Su-34 fighter-bomber of the Battlegroup West delivered an airstrike on a temporary deployment point of the [Ukrainian] 103rd territorial defense brigade near Peschanoye," said Zybinsky.
According to him, the crews of Ka-52 and Mi-29 attack helicopters and assault aviation carried out 14 missile strikes on concentrations of manpower, weapons and military hardware of Ukraine’s 14th mechanized brigade and territorial defense units near Sinkovka, Kotlyarovka, Makeyevka and Terna.
In addition, in counterbattery fire, the battlegroup’s artillery destroyed a US-made 155mm M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer system and three mortar crews near Peschanoye, Krakhmalnoye, Sinkovka and Stelmakhovka.
In all, the enemy lost more than two platoons, a car and nine unmanned aerial vehicles, Zybinsky said.