No Military Winner Likely In Ukraine Conflict, Will End In Future Negotiations: Gen. Milley

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Feb 17, 2023 - 09:40 PM

Coming off of meetings in Brussels this week with NATO military partners, Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley was interviewed by the Financial Times, discussing his vision for the potential end-game in Ukraine, as well as recent reports of weapons and ammo stockpiles in the West being fast depleted while arming Kiev. In his view, neither side is likely to prevail, in what will be a protracted conflict eventually ending in negotiations.

"It will be almost impossible for the Russians to achieve their political objectives by military means," Milley asserted. "It is unlikely that Russia is going to overrun Ukraine. It’s just not going to happen." But he also conceded that it will be "very, very difficult for Ukraine this year to kick the Russians out of every inch" of territory now captured and controlled by Kremlin forces.

"It’s not to say that it can’t happen... But it’s extraordinarily difficult. And it would require essentially the collapse of the Russian military," the top general explained.

US Army/AP image

Interestingly, following widespread reports that US and especially UK officials had stymied early efforts to reach a negotiated settlement, Milley still said there are "opportunities" for diplomacy at any moment. 

When FT asked him whether talks between Moscow and Kiev are at all possible, Milley responded: "We’re weeks away from the beginning of spring, but it’s a rolling window. There’s opportunities at any moment in time." But he still acknowledged both sides are dug into their positions now more than ever, making near-term serious dialogue unlikely.

On the question of Ukraine expending ammo at a rate "many times higher" than that of its better-armed adversary, Milley described that--

"One of the lessons of this war is the very high consumption rates of conventional munitions, and we are re-examining our own stockages and our own plans to make sure that we got it right." 

"We’re trying to do the analysis so that we can then estimate what we think the true requirement would be, and then we have to put that in the budget. Ammunition is very expensive," he conceded.

Milley said somewhat contradictory things this week. At one point from Brussels he said that Russia has "lost tactically, operationally, and strategically" - but has now also admitted the conflict is headed toward a stalemate and that Ukraine will not ultimately defeat the Russian army.

Yet at the same time the Western allies have long claimed Putin won't stop at Ukraine, but will seek to expand into the Baltic states, Moldova and Poland. So Russia both "can't win" and we are told is waging an "expansionist" war... how can both be true? Another central contradiction is that America's top general just said that the war will inevitably end in negotiations, yet Kiev's consistent stance has been to firmly rule out any negotiations so long as Putin is still in power.

Perhaps this is why Milley in follow-up sought to clarify his statements, stressing the official Biden administration line that it is "up to Ukraine to decide how or when or if they will negotiate with the Russians."