Russia has well over 200,000 troops stationed in the occupied parts of Ukraine, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said in an interview with CNN on Sept. 18.
While acknowledging that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has moved at a relatively slow pace, the general stressed that the Ukrainian military “is not a spent force” and is making steady gains.
According to Milley, Kyiv’s ongoing military campaign cannot be described as a failure since Ukraine broke through several Russian defensive belts and still has time to achieve more results.
The general, who is expected to retire as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by the end of the month, said earlier on Sept. 10 that Ukraine has about 30-45 days remaining for the offensive before the weather worsens.
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Milley nevertheless noted that even if the counteroffensive achieves all its goals, it would not be enough to push out Russian forces completely from Ukraine.
Ejecting all the 200,000 occupying troops will take a “considerable length of time,” well beyond the scope of the ongoing campaign, the general said.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive which has been ongoing in the country’s southeast at least since June has attracted criticism for its slow pace and limited gains.
However, the past few weeks saw several notable successes by Ukraine as the military broke through the first line of Russian defenses in the south and began fighting at the supposedly weaker second line.
Earlier on Sept. 18, General Oleksandr Syrskyi who heads the military operations in the east said that Ukrainian troops had broken through one of the Russian defensive lines also near Bakhmut on the eastern front.
The recent liberation of the Klishchiivka village south of the occupied city reportedly created a bridgehead for further counteroffensive operations in the area, Ukrainian military spokesperson Illia Yevlash said.
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