Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said Thursday that Russia has failed to meet its strategic objectives in the first six months of President Vladimir Putin’s brutal campaign against Ukraine.
Speaking alongside Defense Secretary Austin Lloyd in Germany following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the top general said the Ukrainian people have shown “superior tactical proficiency” and “a superior will to fight.”
“The war is not over, but so far, the Russian strategic objectives have been defeated,” Milley said.
Milley added that the U.S. and other allies have helped supply Ukraine with the weapons systems it needs to defend itself, noting the detrimental effect this has had on Russia’s ability to continue fighting.
“Russian lines of communication and supply channels are severely strained,” Milley said.
He continued: “They’re having great difficulty resupplying their forces and replacing their combat losses.”
But Russia on Thursday disputed that Western weapons have helped Ukraine make progress, according to The Associated Press.
“The Russian army consistently, with minimal risk for its soldiers and civilians is destroying not only the old weaponry of Soviet models, which the Eastern European countries are discharging, but also the modern NATO weapons,” said Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Milley also provided a rundown of the war, pointing to Russia’s early strategic failures after it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“They didn’t seize the capital, they didn’t topple the government, they didn’t get to the Dnipro River, and they didn’t seize Odesa,” Milley said, using the Ukrainian name for the Dnieper River.
That forced Russian forces to pivot in mid-April and focus instead on seizing the Donbas and holding Odesa at risk, Milley explained. These efforts have also been unsuccessful, he said.
“They have only crossed the Dnipro River in the south, in the vicinity of Kherson,” Milley said, adding that at the start of this month the Ukrainians launched their own counteroffensive in the south.
Austin on Friday told reporters that Ukraine has recently made progress in this operation.
“We see success in Kherson now. We see some success in Kharkiv, and so that is very, very encouraging,” Austin said, according to Reuters.
The U.S. officials, though, were keen to emphasize that the conflict is far from over.
“Russia’s a big country. They have very serious ambitions with respect to Ukraine. So sustainment of Ukraine to continue their fight for their survival will be necessary,” Milley said.