Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Friday said that Russia has “really suffered a lot” in Ukraine and urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war.
“The Russian casualties — last time I reported out on it publicly, I said it was well over 100,000. I would say it’s significantly well over 100,000 now,” Milley said at a news conference alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Germany, providing a slight update on a figure the top US general offered in November.
Milley said that the “tremendous amount of casualties” suffered by Russia included “regular military, and also their mercenaries in the Wagner Group and other type forces that are fighting with the Russians.”
“Putin could end this war today,” Milley said, “It’s turning into an absolute catastrophe for Russia.”
“Ukraine has also suffered tremendously,” Milley added. “You know that there’s a significant amount of innocent civilians that have been killed in a result of the Russian actions. The Russians are hitting civilian infrastructure. There’s a significant amount of economic damage, a significant amount of damage to the energy infrastructure, and the Ukrainian military has suffered a significant amount of casualties themselves.”
“This is a very, very bloody war, and there’s significant casualties on both sides,” Milley said, going on to say that “sooner or later” negotiations will have to occur to bring the conflict to a conclusion.
Russia has shown no signs of taking steps to end the war, despite facing repeated, major setbacks. Ukraine has also warned that Russia appears to be preparing for another offensive, as Kyiv urges the West to provide more weapons — particularly tanks — possibly for its own offensive push.
But NATO countries are at an impasse on the issue of sending main battle tanks, the German-made Leopard in particular, to Ukraine, and Western defense chiefs failed to come to an agreement on the matter as they met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday.
The discussion has largely centered around whether Germany is willing to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine or at the very least allow other European countries who have the German-made tank in their inventories to provide them to Ukrainian forces. Germany would need to grant permission for the Leopard tanks to be exported by other countries, and so far, that hasn’t happened.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is facing questions on whether it will send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. There have been signs from Germany that it won’t provide Leopard tanks unless the US sends M1s, but the Pentagon has pushed back on that while arguing that it does not make sense to send the Abrams to Ukraine because the cost is too high and the training and maintenance is too complicated.
Austin on Friday challenged the assertion that decisions on the Abrams and Leopards are tied together. In an update on the situation though, he said he had no announcements to make regarding whether the US might change its stance on the M1 and noted that Germany, which he called a “reliable ally,” has “not made a decision on Leopards.”