“There was a lot of suffering,” Millie said.
The Pentagon did not explain how it calculated the casualties, and the Washington Post could not independently confirm them. The latest official statistics of the Ministry of Defense of Russia in September declared the number of Russians killed at 5,937, which military experts and Western authorities say grossly underestimates the country’s losses.
Ukraine has not published the number of casualties of its soldiers. In an interview with CNN earlier this week, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Russia’s casualties were ten times higher than Ukraine’s.
On Thursday, Kyiv officials quickly protested Milli’s assessment. “We have casualties, and every life lost is a tragedy,” said Yuri Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defense ministry. “But we have less casualties because we don’t use butcher tactics and our priority is to save the lives of the soldiers.”
Russia has ordered the withdrawal of its forces from Kherson, in a new setback for Putin
The Pentagon figures, however, point to the ferocity of the fighting raging along a 1,000-mile front line around Ukraine’s eastern fringes. Much of the fighting takes place in World War I-style trenches, where soldiers in dug-out mud forts endure relentless artillery bombardment until they are forced to retreat.
According to casualty estimates, an average of 769 soldiers were killed or wounded each day during the 260-day war.
According to Department of Defense statistics, casualties on both sides were nearly double the 60,000 Americans killed or wounded in the 20-year war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and twice the 50,000 killed and wounded by the Soviet Union in its decade. will be more. war of the year in Afghanistan.
An estimated 70,000 Afghan soldiers and 50,000 civilians have been killed in twenty years of conflict with the US-backed coalition. However, these numbers are less than those of Ukraine.
Other recent wars have been just as bloody, but over a longer period of time and with more civilian suffering. The United Nations in Syria estimates that 400,000 people have died in the first five years of the war, the vast majority of them civilians.
Milli suggested that Russia’s announcement on Wednesday about the withdrawal from Kherson and the approach of winter could be a chance for negotiations. The Biden administration and other Western allies have recently been trying to get Ukraine to consider talks with Russia.
The US has privately asked Ukraine to show more openness in negotiations with Russia
Milli said the winter months, when temperatures in Ukraine regularly drop below freezing, will likely bring a pause in the fighting as Russia looks to reunify and rebuild, offering a “window of opportunity for negotiations.”
“There must be a mutual recognition that military victory is likely, in the truest sense of the word, probably not to be achieved by military means,” he said, “and therefore you have to resort to other means.”
But Ukraine’s recent victories through Kharkov in the northeast in September and now in Kherson in the south have left Kiev in no way open to negotiations. Ukrainian officials say they are confident they can win a complete military victory over Russia on the battlefield, and Zelensky has set preconditions for talks, including a full Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory and a promise of reparations — terms Russia will likely never accept. does not
Milli said that the United States will support Ukraine until their demands are fulfilled. “The United States will continue to support Ukraine and its struggle for freedom,” he said. “If negotiations take place, very good. If they don’t, they will probably continue to fight until the spring.”
What should be known about Russia’s withdrawal from the city of Kherson?
The Kremlin has also signaled it is open to talks, but its preconditions conflict with Ukraine’s: After Russia illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine, Putin said the “one way to peace” was recognition by Ukraine and the West. that the people of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye “became our citizens forever”.
Despite their many differences, Milley said, both sides should strive to end the war.
“When peace can be made, make it,” he said said. “Seize the moment.”