The top United States general said Thursday that Ukraine is likely to receive F-16 fighter jets soon, saying its counter-offensive against the Russian invasion has made slow progress and has met partial success.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said it was too early to say whether the counteroffensive had failed.
“F-16. This is actually progressing. So there’s a training program in place and they’ll probably get F-16s…in the not too distant future,” Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an exclusive interview with Jordan’s public television news channel Al-Mamlaka.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently said he had received commitments from Denmark and the Netherlands to supply F-16 aircraft. These would strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses and support its counter-offensive against Russian forces.
Milley said the counter-offensive faced heavy Russian reinforcements and had many months to prepare minefields, anti-tank ditches and Dragon’s Teeth anti-tank obstacles “in a very complex complex of defensive preparations through which the Ukrainians are fighting…”
“The Ukrainians still have considerable fighting power; it’s not over yet,” he said. “So I think it’s honestly too early to tell if it succeeded or failed.”
“Obviously the offensive has been partially successful so far. Now the rate at which the offensive is progressing is slower than planners anticipated,” Milley added in the Amman interview.
Ukrainian forces are being trained extensively in different parts of Europe to “command and control offensive formations and combined arms maneuvers and overcome complex obstacles that will bolster their capabilities,” the US Army four-star general said.
“Once again it’s gory, it’s long and it’s slow. And we predicted that a few months ago,” he said.
Washington is still considering deploying long-range Army tactical missile systems, known as ATACMS, which Ukraine desires and which could reach behind enemy lines, including Russia, Milley told Al-Mamlaka.
“They got long-range artillery with the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), and the British provided other types of capabilities that other countries also have. So they got a lot of artillery,” he said. “But the ATACMS is a controversial subject.
“And for many reasons they haven’t received it yet. They’re still on the table. President Biden said neither no nor yes at this point,” Milley said.
Milley, who is due to retire later this year, again warned of the likelihood of a complete Ukrainian military victory in the near future and stressed the possibility of a political solution to end the fighting.
“It’s an offensive that I’m guessing has been going on for about eight weeks. It’s very bloody, slow, takes a lot of casualties, and is very difficult. So the idea of militarily throwing out two or three hundred thousand Russian soldiers is going to be very difficult and challenging.
“Another way to get out of this situation is through negotiations, and maybe that will happen.”
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