US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said when testifying before the House Armed Services Committee that the Ukraine war will last for several years.
The chief US military officer told senators Tuesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have been impossible to prevent if US forces is not been present, and that the European struggle would likely stretch on for years.
The acquisition of Ukraine has been a “long-standing objective” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
Milley testified before the House Armed Services Committee with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, saying, “Candidly, short of the commitment of US forces into Ukraine proper, I am not sure he was deterrable.” “This has been a long-term objective of his that goes back years. I think the idea of deterring Putin from invading Ukraine — deterring him by the United States — would have required the use of US military forces and would have risked armed conflict with Russia, which I wouldn’t advise.”
Milley’s statement contradicted the Biden administration’s rhetoric about the intended effect of sanctions against Russia prior to the invasion on February 24.
“Sanctions are not an end to themselves,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on February 22. They serve a higher purpose. And that purpose is to deter and prevent. They’re meant to prevent and deter a large-scale invasion of Ukraine that could involve the seizure of major cities, including Kyiv.”
Milley said that it was “hard to tell” when asked by Rep. Bill Keating (D-Massachusetts) how long he anticipated the war would last.
“It’s a bit early, still. Even though we’re a month-plus into the war, there is much of the ground war left in Ukraine,” he added. “But I do think this is a very protracted conflict, and I think it’s at least measured in years. I don’t know about a decade, but at least years for sure.”
“This is a very extended conflict that Russia has initiated,” Milley went on, “and I think that NATO, the United States, Ukraine and all of the allies and partners that are supporting Ukraine are going to be involved in this for quite some time.”
Milley claimed Russia’s invasion had “created a dangerous, historical turning point” in his prepared testimony.
Despite Western sanctions wreaking havoc on Russia’s economy, Milley warned that Moscow “retains a large and varied nuclear capability to threaten the United States and our allies and partners, and we have heard very provocative rhetoric concerning Russia’s nuclear force alert levels from Russian senior leaders.”
Putin ordered his country’s nuclear weapons to be placed on high alert days after approving the invasion owing to what he described the West’s “aggressive statements” in defence of Ukraine.
“Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin stated on state television on Feb. 27.
According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Russia has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, with approximately 6,000 warheads, including missiles capable of striking the US mainland.
The US is “facing two global powers, China and Russia, each [with] significant military capabilities, both who intend to fundamentally change the rules-based current global order,” according to Milley.
Austin repeated (read pdf below) Milley’s remarks, calling China and Russia, in that order, as the two “greatest challenges to US security.”
“The People’s Republic of China [PRC] is the department’s pacing challenge due to its coercive and increasingly aggressive efforts to refashion the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to suit its interests and preferences,” Austin informed the House panel.
Beijing has updated all areas of the People’s Liberation Army, including nuclear capability, to counter US military advantages, according to the secretary.
“The PRC seeks to fragment US alliances and security partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, and the PRC’s leaders hope to leverage their economic influence and the PLA’s growing military strength to coerce China’s neighbors and threaten their vital national interests,” Austin added.
In his prepared remarks, Milley stated that China is “actively watching” the events in Ukraine to “exploit efforts in order to weaken the US and our allies supporting Ukraine.”
He stressed, though, that war with China “is not inevitable.”
“The PRC is clearly a strategic competitor,” Milley added, “and it continues to improve its technology and modernization of its armed forces.” “It is imperative that we keep our relationship with the PRC a competition and not allow it to become a conflict.”
The pdf is given below: