Time Ticking for Ukraine’s Counter-Offensive: US Army Chief Warns of Approaching Weather Challenges

Gen Mark Milley, the top-ranking US military officer, warns that Ukraine has only about 30 to 45 days of favorable weather left for its counter-offensive against Russian forces. The counter-offensive has progressed more slowly than expected, but significant battles continue. Meanwhile, international and domestic pressures mount on Russia as it forms a precarious alliance with North Korea.

by Michael Scurry

The United States’ highest-ranking military officer, Gen Mark Milley, cautioned that Ukraine has a limited window of approximately 30 to 45 days to continue its counter-offensive before winter weather imposes additional challenges. In an interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, Gen Milley highlighted that the Ukrainian forces have made “steady progress” but admitted that the campaign had moved more sluggishly than anticipated.

While Milley refrained from declaring the counter-offensive a failure, he emphasized that the Ukrainians were “progressing at a very steady pace through the Russian front lines.” The campaign, initiated earlier this summer to reclaim territory under Russian control, has reported modest advancements. However, Ukrainian military leaders contend that they have penetrated Russia’s formidable southern defenses.

Gen Milley described the conflict as “long, slow, hard, and high-casualty-producing,” aligning with his initial expectations. Adm Sir Tony Radakin, the UK chief of defence staff, who was also present in the interview, affirmed that “Ukraine is winning and Russia is losing,” attributing this not only to the battlefield but also to economic and diplomatic pressures being applied by the international community.

Reflecting on the past year, Gen Milley noted that despite challenges like equipment and ammunition shortages, the Ukrainian forces successfully recaptured Kherson last November and continued fighting around Bakhmut during the generally milder winter. Lt Gen Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, echoed this sentiment, stating that fighting would continue “one way or another,” even as the weather turns cold and wet.

Shifting to the geopolitical implications, Adm Radakin pointed out that Russia’s newly-formed alliance with North Korea indicates President Vladimir Putin’s “state of desperation.” This desperate move, coupled with increased sanctions and domestic upheavals, reveals a diminishing number of international partners willing to stand by Russia. Reports suggest that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, plans to meet Putin to discuss an arms deal, raising alarm in Washington and Seoul over potential military collaboration in Asia.

As for the US military’s commitment amid domestic political turmoil, Gen Milley reassured that its allegiance is “to the Constitution” of the United States, irrespective of the individual occupying the White House. The General, who is set to retire in a few weeks, ruled out entering politics himself, stating that he would “run for best grandad” upon retirement.

With the clock ticking on Ukraine’s counter-offensive and global tensions escalating, the coming weeks will be pivotal in determining the trajectory of the conflict and its broader implications.

(Associated Medias) – All right reserved