General Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday where he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were testifying on the defense budget, that he believes the Russia-Ukraine conflict will continue for years.
He described what the Pentagon sees as what's to be a "very protracted conflict" to come that's "at least measured in years." As we reported earlier, Gen. Milley further called Russia's military operation the "greatest threat to peace and security of Europe, perhaps the world in my 40 years of service and in uniform."
It's widely perceived that the thinking in Moscow was that its "special operation" in Ukraine might take a mere weeks or months - based on Russia's overwhelming firepower, aircraft, and technology at its disposal - but that Ukrainian resistance was fiercer and more significant than expected, likely causing Russia to now limit the scope of operations to taking Ukraine's eastern and southern regions.
Gen. Milley explained to Congressional leaders: "But I do think this is a very protracted conflict, and I think it’s at least measured in years. I don’t know about decade, but at least years, for sure."
"This is a very extended conflict that Russia has initiated, and I think that NATO, the United States, Ukraine and all of the allies and partners that are supporting Ukraine are going to be involved in this for quite some time," he added.
He further characterized the conflict as follows: "The Russian invasion of Ukraine is threatening to undermine not only European peace and stability but global peace and stability that my parents and a generation of Americans fought so hard to defend," Milley testified.
If you don’t want Russia to fight Ukraine over there, don’t use Ukraine to fight Russia from here.pic.twitter.com/6B4QVFSZvV— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 26, 2022
But the dangerous reality is that the longer this conflict endures, the greater the likelihood of it cascading into a direct Russia-NATO clash, which both sides have admitted would be recipe for World War 3, involving nuclear-armed powers.
This also (as the prior archived above clip demonstrates) as the conflict is being increasingly acknowledged as a 'proxy war' between the US/NATO alliance and Moscow. Milley in his testimony nodded to this in his Tuesday words: "We are now facing two global powers: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities both who intend to fundamentally change the rules-based current global order," he said, and added: "We are entering a world that is becoming more unstable. The potential for significant international conflict between great powers is increasing, not decreasing."