The United States’ top general has warned Ukraine that it has only a few weeks left to carry out its counteroffensive against Russia, which has amassed more than 100,000 troops near its border. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the weather would soon hamper Ukraine’s ability to maneuver on the battlefield1.
“There is still a reasonable amount of time, about 30 to 45 days’ worth of fighting weather left,” Milley told the BBC on Sunday1. “The Ukrainians aren’t done, this battle is not done, and they haven’t finished the fighting part of what they are trying to accomplish. It’s too early to say how this is going to end,” he added.
Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in early June, after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in February 2022 and supported separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The counteroffensive has made some gains, but has also faced fierce resistance from Russian forces, which have deployed advanced weapons and air defenses2.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has insisted that Ukraine still has the initiative, but he urged patience and realism. “We should not see the counteroffensive like a feature film that was all done in 90 minutes,” he said at a conference in Kyiv on Friday3.
Zelensky also said that he was ready to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has demanded security guarantees from NATO and the US, such as a ban on further expansion of the alliance and the removal of missile systems from Eastern Europe. Putin has blamed the West for escalating tensions and threatened to use force if his demands are not met4.
The Biden administration has reiterated its warnings to Russia over a potential invasion of Ukraine, saying that it would face severe economic sanctions and military consequences. A senior administration official said on Thursday that the US is “ready to act if and when we need to”5.
The official also said that the US is willing to engage with Russia through multiple channels as soon as early January, but that any dialogue must take place in coordination with US allies and partners. The official said that some of Russia’s demands are “unacceptable” and that they “know we can never agree to” them5.
The US has also expressed support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has provided military assistance and training to its forces. The UK, another key ally of Ukraine, has also condemned Russia’s “aggressive and inflammatory rhetoric” and warned that any incursion would be “a massive strategic mistake”6.