Around two hundred thousand soldiers from both sides have been killed in the Ukraine war, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated on Wednesday.
The most senior US general said that military casualties are evenly split between Ukraine and Russia with around one hundred thousand Russians and approximately the same number of Ukrainian soldiers killed.
Gen Milley, who serves as President Joe Biden’s most senior military adviser, said the scale of the casualties could convince both Moscow and Kyiv of the need to negotiate over the coming winter months, when fighting may slow due to freezing conditions.
“You’re looking at well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded,” Gen. Milley said, according to Reuters. “Same thing probably on the Ukrainian side.”
Moscow’s last update in September said that just 5,937 troops had been killed since the start of the conflict, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu dismissing reports of a significantly higher death toll.
On Thursday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces claimed that 78,690 Russian soldiers were killed since the war began. The figure did not include wounded soldiers.
40,000 civilians were killed in the Ukraine war
Milley also estimated that about forty thousand Ukrainian civilians were killed as a result of the war.
“There has been a tremendous amount of suffering, human suffering,” said Gen Milley. He also noted that between fifteen and thirty million refugees have been created since Russia launched its invasion on February 24th.
Amid mounting death tolls, Shoigu announced on Wednesday an order for Russian forces in Kherson to retreat across the Dneiper River.
Gen. Sergei Surovikin said in televised remarks alongside Shoigu that the “difficult decision” was made in order to “preserve the most important thing—the lives of our servicemen and, in general, the combat effectiveness of the group of troops.”
Gen. Milley said that while “initial indicators” suggested that a retreat had begun, he observed that Russia had amassed around twenty to thirty thousand troops in the city, and the withdrawal could take several weeks.
“They made the public announcement they’re doing it,” he said. “I believe they’re doing it in order to preserve their force to re-establish defensive lines south of the [Dnieper] River, but that remains to be seen.”