Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on Sunday said Ukrainian troops are making “steady progress” in the counteroffensive against Russia but are running out of time to achieve key objectives.
“There’s still a reasonable amount of time, probably about 30 to 45 days’ worth of fighting weather left, so the Ukrainians aren’t done,” Milley told the BBC on Sunday. “And then the rains will come in; it will become very muddy, and it will be very difficult to maneuver at that point and then you will get the deep winter.”
America’s highest-ranking military officer added it was “way too early” to say the counteroffensive has failed, noting they “haven’t finished the fighting part of what they’re trying to accomplish.”
Some military analysts have told The Hill that Ukraine can power through the next few months regardless of weather, so long as weaponry, equipment and supplies keep coming.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Lt. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, told the BBC that Ukraine would continue its operation “one way or another,” and that forces would adjust to the wet and cold weather, rather than halt the offensive.
Ukraine launched the counteroffensive in June and has so far struggled to make any significant gains in the eastern part of its country, where Russian troops are dug in behind minefields, trenches and anti-tank obstacles.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday his country “waited too long” to launch the counteroffensive, indicating Kyiv’s Western allies kept it waiting with weapons deliveries.
But Kyiv has managed to make more progress in the last few weeks, capturing a key town in the southeast and puncturing a main Russian defensive line last month.
Milley on Sunday described the fighting as intense but said Ukraine was “progressing at a very steady pace through the Russian front lines,” echoing comments from other Western leaders who are making the case that Ukraine is slowly forging ahead.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week said Ukraine was making “real progress.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said the counteroffensive operation was making gradual advances.
Milley said in the program that Ukraine was fighting for a “large piece of ground” across the eastern front, comparing it to the theater of war between the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War.
“They’ve got a very tough fight ahead of them,” he said.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.