About 40,000 civilians were also killed or injured in the war, Milley said. “There has been an enormous amount of suffering, human suffering,” he added. The Washington Post was unable to independently verify the numbers.
Milley’s figure is a sharp increase from the Pentagon’s August estimate of 70,000 to 80,000 Russian casualties. By comparison, the Soviet Union said in 1988 that it had lost more than 13,000 soldiers and that more than 35,000 were wounded in Afghanistan during its war there.
It comes as the Biden administration has encouraged Ukraine to be more open to talks with Russia amid growing unease in the West over the cost of a protracted conflict that has sent the price of energy and food soaring.
US personally asks Ukraine to show openness to negotiations with Russia
Officials in Kiev say they are open to negotiations with Russia, but have placed conditions including the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, an agreement on Russia’s compensation for war damage and security guarantees from other countries.
As The Post reported, the Biden administration’s assistance to Ukraine over peace talks included a request to officials there to withdraw their public refusal to negotiate with Russian leader, President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin has also said it is open to talks, but its own terms appear to be at odds with Ukraine’s: After Russia illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine, Putin said “the only path to peace” for Ukraine and the West is to recognize that the people of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya “have become our citizens forever”.
Despite the differences in demands between the two sides, Milley said the winter could create opportunities for peace negotiations, with Russia ordering its troops to withdraw from the strategic southern city of Kherson on Wednesday. But first, he said, both sides had to recognize that a full military victory “may not be achievable” in this conflict, “and so you must turn to other means.”
What you need to know about Russia’s withdrawal from the city of Kherson
Ukrainian officials have suggested that Russia could only pretend to withdraw from Kherson in an attempt to capture Ukrainian troops in a battle to capture the city. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, warned on Wednesday that Ukraine saw “no signs” of a unilateral withdrawal.
Actions rather than words. We see no signs of Russia leaving Kherson without a fight. Part of the ru group is kept in the city and additional reserves are charged to the region. 🇺🇦 liberates areas based on intelligence data, not on staged TV broadcasts.
— ихайло одоляк (@Podolyak_M) Nov 9, 2022
US officials have also indicated they are wary of reports of a Russian withdrawal. “There is evidence that the Russians are planning to withdraw to the eastern bank of the Dnieper River,” Colin H. Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said Tuesday. “We’ll have to see how that plays out.”
But Milley said of the withdrawal on Wednesday: “The first indicators are that they are in fact doing it. They made the public announcement that they are doing it.”
He said it could take weeks for Russia to withdraw its troops – 20,000 to 30,000 in Kherson – and suggested the withdrawal could be a strategic move “to maintain their forces to defend defensive lines south of the Soviet Union.” [Dnieper] river, but that remains to be seen.”
In the meantime, Milley said, there is “an opportunity to negotiate”.
White House says ‘lines of communication’ with Russia are still open
“If peace can be achieved, seize it,” he said said. “Seizing the moment.”