About 40,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the war, Milley said. “There is a lot of suffering, human suffering,” he added. The Washington Post was unable to independently verify the numbers.
Milley’s figure is a sharp increase from the Pentagon’s August estimate of 70,000 to 80,000 Russian casualties. By contrast, the Soviet Union said in 1988 that it lost more than 13,000 soldiers and wounded more than 35,000 during the war in Afghanistan.
At the same time, the Biden administration has encouraged Ukraine to be more open to negotiations with Russia, as the West grows increasingly uneasy about the cost of a protracted conflict that has sent energy and food prices soaring.
U.S. privately asks Ukraine to show its willingness to negotiate with Russia
Kyiv officials said they were open to negotiations with Russia, but had set preconditions, including the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, a Russian compensation agreement for war losses and security guarantees from other countries.
As The Washington Post reported, the Biden administration has engaged with Ukraine over peace talks, including asking officials there to drop their public refusal to negotiate with Russian leader President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin has also said it is open to talks, but its own preconditions appear to be at odds with Ukraine: After Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s four regions, Putin said “the only way to peace” is for Ukraine and the West to recognize Luhansk , Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye people “will always be our citizens”.
Despite disagreements over the demands, Milley said winter could create an opportunity for peace talks, with Russia ordering its troops on Wednesday to withdraw from the strategic southern city of Kherson. But first, he said, both sides must recognize that “a full military victory may not be possible” in this conflict, “so you need to turn to other means.”
What to know about the withdrawal of Russian troops from the city of Kherson
Ukrainian officials said Russia may have just pretended to withdraw its troops from Kherson to lure Ukrainian troops into fighting for the city. Mikhailo Podoljak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, warned on Wednesday that Ukraine “sees no signs of a unilateral withdrawal”.
Actions speak louder than words. We see no sign of Russia retreating without a fight. Part of the crude oil is held in the city, and additional reserves are collected by the region. 🇺🇦 It is based on intelligence data to liberate territories, not staged TV statements.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) November 9, 2022
U.S. officials also said they were wary of reports of a Russian withdrawal. “There are indications that Russia intends to retreat to the east bank of the Dnieper,” Colin H. Carr, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said on Tuesday. “We’ll have to see how it turns out.”
But Milley said Wednesday of the withdrawal: “The initial indication was that they were actually doing it. They publicly announced that they were doing it.”
He said it could take weeks for Russia to withdraw its troops from Kherson – 20,000 to 30,000 troops – and suggested the withdrawal could be a strategic move “to preserve their strength and to rebuild South Sudan’s defenses. [Dnieper] River, but that remains to be seen. “
At the same time, Milley said, there is a “window of opportunity for negotiation.”
White House says ‘channels of communication’ with Russia remain open
“When peace can be achieved, grab it,” hehe Say. “catch the moment.”