General Mark Milley recently said the war in Ukraine “is turning into an absolute catastrophe for Russia” despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that a triumph in the conflict is “inevitable.”
“Massive amounts of casualties, lots of other damage to the Russian military,” said Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a Friday tweet by Jeff Seldin, Voice of America’s national security correspondent.
Ukraine’s armed forces recently said that around 117,000 Russian troops have died in the war since it was launched last February. Though Russia doesn’t regularly release its casualty figures, Moscow has said that less than 6,000 of its regular troops have died, along with fewer than 4,000 additional fighters from Russia’s so-called people’s republics in Ukraine’s occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The Russian figures don’t include mercenary fighters such as those from the Wagner Group. Newsweek was unable to independently verify figures from both sides.
According to Seldin, Milley also said that Russia is paying high costs for its invasion of Ukraine and that Putin “could and should end this war today, right now.” The U.S. general said he thinks that the war might eventually end with negotiations.
Putin, however, seems to be certain he can achieve victory in Ukraine amid recent military gains achieved by his troops in the Ukrainian city of Soledar. He said on Wednesday that he has “no doubt” about Russia winning the war.
“Everything that we are doing today, including the special military operation, is an attempt to stop this war,” the Russian president said earlier that day. “This is the gist of our operation: to protect our people who live there, on these territories,” he added, according to a state media readout.
On Tuesday, Milley met in person with Ukraine’s chief military officer, General Valery Zaluzhnyi, at an undisclosed location near the Ukraine-Poland border. There, the U.S. general and his Ukrainian counterpart discussed Ukraine’s military needs, the Associated Press reported.
Milley’s spokesman, Colonel Dave Butler, said that both military leaders have been regularly talking for about a year now, according to the AP.
“They’ve talked in detail about the defense that Ukraine is trying to do against Russia’s aggression. And it’s important: When you have two military professionals looking each other in the eye and talking about very, very important topics, there’s a difference,” Butler said.
As the Ukraine war continues into its 11th month, some of Putin’s critics are becoming more outspoken against the conflict and how it could affect Russia. Former Russian commander Igor Ivanovich Strelkov, also known as Igor Girkin, warned on Sunday of a “civil war” in Russia that could result in “millions of casualties.”
“There are all kinds of civil wars. There are civil wars that will kill our country in three days in winter. And it will be over in three days, but it will kill the country,” Girkin said in a clip with subtitles that was posted to Twitter by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Strelkov also said that Moscow could “collapse into a civil war with millions of casualties, with a complete collapse and defragmentation.”
Newsweek reached out to Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s media office for comment.