As many as 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, said Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday.
While speaking at The Economic Club of New York, Milley added that as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have also perished in the war.
“There has been a tremendous amount of suffering, human suffering,” he said.
This week, Russia announced a retreat from the key Ukrainian city of Kherson, in a dramatic setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
With Ukrainian troops approaching the city from two directions and cutting off the supply lines for Russian troops, the Kremlin ordered its forces to withdraw from the area.
Kherson was one of the four Ukrainian regions that Russia declared to have annexed in September. If Russia were to remove its troops from the region, it would mean that it is surrendering thousands of square kilometers of the annexed territory.
However, Ukrainian officials remain skeptical about the withdrawal of Russian forces. Zelensky has warned that Russians might be feigning to pull out from the area to lure in Ukrainian troops.
Milley said that a full retreat from Kherson would take Russia several weeks given that 20,000 to 30,000 troops are stationed there.
“The initial indicators are that they are in fact doing it. They made the public announcement they’re doing it. I believe they’re doing it in order to preserve their force to reestablish defensive lines south of the (Dnieper) river, but that remains to be seen” he said.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was open to holding peace talks with the Kremlin if Russia returned all of the Ukrainian lands it annexed in September, provide compensation for war damages, and face prosecution for war crimes.