Russia’s announcement of its withdrawal from Kherson, a regional capital in southern Ukraine that it seized in the first weeks of the war, and the possible lull in fighting over the winter, could give both countries an opportunity to negotiate peace. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday.
He noted that some 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “much more” than 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded during the nine-month conflict. “It’s probably the same on the Ukrainian side,” Milley added.
“There has been a tremendous amount of pain, of human suffering,” he declared at The Economic Club of New York.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that he was open to peace talks with Russia to end the war, but only on the condition that Moscow return all occupied Ukrainian territories, provide compensation for war damages and be prosecuted for war crimes.
Russia has said it is open to negotiations, and this week announced that it had begun a withdrawal from Kherson.
Zelenskyy has warned that the Russians are simulating a withdrawal from Kherson to draw Ukrainian forces into trench warfare in the port city, which is the gateway to the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
Milley, the top US military officer, said Russia has 20,000 to 30,000 troops in Kherson and a full withdrawal could take several weeks.
“The initial indicators are that they are indeed doing it. They made the public announcement that they will. I think they do it to preserve their forces to re-establish defensive lines south of the (Dnieper) river, but that remains to be seen,” he stated.
Milley left open the possibility that Russia would use the withdrawal to rebuild its forces for an offensive in the spring, but “there is also an opportunity here, an opportunity to negotiate.”
But for negotiations to have a chance, both Russia and Ukraine would have to come to a “mutual admission” that a victory “may not be possible by military means, and therefore other means have to be resorted to,” Miley said. , who gave the example of the First World War.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.