More than 100,000 Russian servicemen have been killed or injured in Ukraine, with Kyiv forces likely suffering a similar figure, according to a US general.
About 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and wounded since the invasion of Ukraine, and Kyiv’s armed forces have “probably” suffered a similar number of casualties, the US general said.
General Mark Milley’s remarks on Wednesday offer the highest US estimate to date in the nearly nine-month-old conflict, and came as Ukraine and Russia face a possible winter lull in the fighting which analysts say could provide an opportunity for some kind of negotiations. .
Asked about the prospects for diplomacy in Ukraine, Milley noted that the early refusal to negotiate during World War I increased human suffering and claimed millions more victims.
“So when there is an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved…seize the moment,” Milley told the Economic Club of New York.
Earlier Wednesday, Russia announced that its troops would withdraw from the west bank of the Dnieper near the strategic city of Kherson in southern Ukraine – in a significant setback for Moscow and a potential turning point in the war.
“Maybe even weeks”
Milley and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refrained from overestimating the significance of Moscow’s withdrawal from Kherson, even though US President Joe Biden suggested it was proof that eight months into the war Russia had “real problems” on the battlefield.
Zelenskyy suggested that Russia could strategically fake a withdrawal.
“The enemy does not bring us gifts, does not make ‘goodwill gestures’,” Zelenskyy said, adding that any gains for Ukraine come at the expense of “lives lost by our heroes.”
Milley said early indicators suggest Russia is continuing its withdrawal from Kherson. But he warned it could take time.
“It won’t take them a day or two, it’s going to take them days – and maybe even weeks – to pull those forces south of that river,” Milley said, estimating that Russia probably had 20,000 to go. 30,000 troops north of the Dnieper. River.
“A lot of human suffering”
The United States and its NATO allies have ceased direct intervention in Ukraine, but are arming, advising and enabling their military to defend Kyiv against invading Russian armies.
Milley said the conflict has so far turned between 15 and 30 million Ukrainians into refugees and killed probably 40,000 Ukrainian civilians.
“You see well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded. Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side. Lots of human suffering,” Milley said.
Despite the high death toll, US officials say Moscow has been unable to achieve its goals in Ukraine and have raised questions about how long Russia will be able to sustain the war that has also decimated much of its mechanized ground forces and undermined its artillery stocks.