Ukraine finds itself outnumbered as Russia advances in the Donbas U.S. Gen. Mark Milley says Ukraine faces a shortfall of weapons and troops while battling Russia's latest offensive.

Ukraine finds itself outnumbered as Russia advances in the Donbas

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The nation's top military officer confirms that the U.S. is delivering heavier weapons to Ukraine. General Mark Milley met with NATO leaders in Brussels, and then he met with reporters.


MARK MILLEY: And in a few weeks, the Ukrainians will have trained long-range rocket artillery in the fight.

MARTIN: Ukrainians say weapons aren't getting there quickly enough, but the Joint Chiefs chairman says the U.S. and its allies have sent more anti-tank weapons than there are tanks in the world. After the news conference, an aide handed General Milley a phone to talk to our co-host.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: On the record in case, sir? (ph).

MILLEY: On the record with Steve Inskeep. Steve, you there?


General, yes, I am. Good evening. Thanks for taking the time.

MILLEY: Hey. How are you?

INSKEEP: Our questions for General Milley were all about numbers. Russia has a greater population, a bigger army and more guns. After some early failures, Russians learned to concentrate their firepower in the eastern part of Ukraine.

When we follow news reports from the battlefront, it appears that Russia is gaining ground tactically, occupying more ground in the east. Do you believe they are gaining ground strategically, getting nearer their objectives or nearer winning?

MILLEY: I think it's a fair statement to say that they're gaining ground tactically, but it's very, very slow. They've been engaged in this most recent Donbas offensive in a significant way since, roughly speaking, 16 April. So we're going on 60 days now. And they're gaining ground in very short increments, day to day, 500 meters, 1,000 meters, 2 kilometers. Then they get pushback, and it's two steps forward, one step back. That's one of the reasons the Russians, by the way, are using so much artillery. Ground maneuver is not gaining the ground that they would have thought, given the time that they've been engaged. So at the tactical level, the answer is yes. Strategically, it's a different question. I don't think they're making significant gains, and the Ukrainians are fighting a very, very effective, active area defense down in the Donbas. So I would say they're not achieving great strategic success at this time.

INSKEEP: Although as you know very well, a lot of warfare is math. And there is an adviser to President Zelenskyy who told us the other day the math is clear; we need parity of weapons in order to make advances. Now that the Russians have concentrated their forces more in the east and can use their preponderance of weapons, their preponderance of forces and even of population behind that, can you win the math?

MILLEY: I think the math problem is very difficult for the Ukrainians, especially as it's concentrated in the Donbas, because the Russian artillery, for example, does outnumber Ukrainian artillery. Russian maneuver forces - by that I mean battalion battlegroups - they outnumber Ukrainian battlegroups. But the moral is to the physical as three is to one, as the saying goes. And Ukrainian morale is very, very good. It's solid. Leadership from the national level on down to the platoon leader is very solid. And they're suffering, but they're fighting for their homeland, and they're fighting with a level of will that is truly inspirational. What our task is to help them out, is to make sure that they have the means by which to continue resisting Russian aggression.

INSKEEP: Do they risk running out of trained troops and especially trained leaders as they suffer heavier and heavier casualties?

MILLEY: As reported in the media, you're looking at somewhere in the vicinity of about - perhaps 6- or 700,000 reported Ukrainian troops are under arms in one way or another. Now, they may not be fully trained. They may not be fully equipped at this point. But they have raised a significant amount of troops. You know, there's more to it than just numbers. But I do grant you that the Russians do have the numbers, and they continue to have - outnumber Ukrainian systems gun for gun in many of the key battlefield operating systems.

INSKEEP: One other thing, General, because I know your time is short - sanctions clearly seem to have harmed Russia's economy, but have they in any way undermined Russia's ability to wage this war?

MILLEY: I don't think yet. I think, you know, sanctions take a good long while to take full effect. The cumulative effect of these over time is going to do serious damage to the Russian economy. So the question really for the Russian leadership is the cost-benefit risk calculation. Is the cost that's being imposed on Russia - is it worth whatever benefit they think they're getting? And I would argue that the cost is extraordinarily high, the cost in blood - Russian soldiers are taking tremendous casualties - the cost in equipment and the cost in the consumption rates of their munitions, but also the costs on their economy and the homefront. But I think it's a bit early. We're only 110 days into this thing.

INSKEEP: General Milley, it's a pleasure talking with you again. Thank you so much.

MILLEY: OK, Steve, you be good. Thanks.

INSKEEP: General Mark Milley is the president's top military adviser, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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