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General Mark Milley warns Putin’s war could take years to end

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Tuesday of a “protracted conflict” in Ukraine that could take years to end.

“I think NATO, the United States, Ukraine, and all of the allies and partners that support Ukraine are going to be involved in this for a while,” Milley, the top U.S. military officer, said. before the House Armed Services Committee. .

Milley was joined by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in their first congressional testimony since Russia attacked Ukraine in February. The hearing was expected to focus on the 2023 defense budget request, but the latest developments in Ukraine took center stage.

Russia’s invasion, which has forced more than 4 million people to flee their country, threatens peace in Europe and around the world, Milley said, pointing to changing global power dynamics.

“We are now faced with two world powers: China and Russia, each with significant military capabilities, both intent on fundamentally changing the current rules-based world order,” he said. . “We are entering a world that is becoming increasingly unstable and the potential for significant international conflict is increasing rather than decreasing.”

Milley dismissed suggestions that the United States could have done more to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from carrying out the invasion in the first place.

“Frankly, other than the engagement of US military forces in Ukraine itself, I’m not sure it was a deterrent,” Milley said. “It’s one of his long-term goals that goes back years.”

As Eastern European countries increasingly fear they could be next on Putin’s target list, Milley backed the idea of ​​establishing permanent US military bases in the region. But he said forces should rotate to limit the costs associated with permanently deploying troops, including moving family and schools. He added that American allies in the region, such as Poland, would be willing to help pay.

Austin said NATO was assessing how to increase its presence in Eastern Europe to respond to changes in the region’s “security architecture”.

“If NATO deems it appropriate to change its footprint, we will definitely be part of it,” Austin said. “Our goal is to ensure that we continue to reassure our allies and partners, particularly those on the eastern flank.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that the war was entering a critical phase.

“Moscow is not giving up on its ambitions in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told a news conference ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers this week. “In the coming weeks, we expect another Russian push into eastern and southern Ukraine in an attempt to take all of Donbass and create a land bridge to occupied Crimea.”

Reports of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha shocked the world, prompting the White House to impose new sanctions on Wednesday in conjunction with allies blocking further investment in Russia.

“The goal is to force them to make a choice,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “Most of our goal here is to exhaust the resources Putin has to continue his war against Ukraine.”

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