Russia’s military has been “mauled” by the first year of fighting in Ukraine, a top US general has said.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that there had been a repeated pattern of Russia and Vladimir Putin thinking too highly of their own strength on the battlefield.
The outcome has been the development of a greatly slowed-down war, a far cry from the initial days of a lightning offensive seemingly desired by Russia’s top brass.
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Recent updates from the Ukrainian government claim that over 140,000 Russian troops have been killed in the fighting.
Speaking on MSNBC, Milley said that in some ways, Russia has “already lost the war.”
He told the outlet: "Their initial political objective was to seize most, if not all of Ukraine, and collapse that government.
"That failed. So they didn't achieve their political objective that they set out to do. They didn't achieve it through military means at the beginning of the war, so they failed strategically."
Later in the interview, he added: "The Russian army has been mauled, really severely damaged.
"But the Russian Air Force has not."
He felt that the Russian Air Force has largely been waiting in the wings and not getting involved heavily in the fighting.
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"The Russian Air Force has not entered the fray in terms of close air support, in terms of bringing in their substantial power that they have in their air force, because it's just too high risk for them to do that”.
Ukraine has a robust air defence system that has so far had the upper hand in the conflict.
Another part of the reason the Russians had struggled so much so far in the war, Milley said, was because of the resilience of the Ukrainian people.
"If you roll the clock back, [Ukraine has] been a free and independent country since 1991," he said.
"So, this is a country who the vast majority of its population that's alive today in Ukraine knows nothing but freedom. And you just don't conquer countries that are free."
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