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Milley Says Ukraine Has Leadership, Morale to Beat Russia

More than a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war of choice against Ukraine, Ukraine continues to fight, and allies and partners continue to support and stand behind the nation, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said at Ramstein Air Base, Germany today.

A military officer speaks to reporters.
Milley Remarks
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley speaks to reporters at a press conference following the 11th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 21, 2023.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 230421-D-TT977-0298

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III participated in the 11th iteration of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. The two men spoke to the news media following the meeting of about 50 nations. 

Milley said the Russian president thought he would have an easy time invading Ukraine, toppling its government and incorporating the sovereign nation into Russia. "He thought he could fracture NATO, as he launched an unprovoked war of aggression with hundreds of thousands of Russian forces crossing the border on multiple avenues of approach. He was wrong," the chairman said.  

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"Ukraine's spirit remains unbroken," he continued. "There are now 31 members of NATO, and NATO is even stronger than ever — united in the face of Russia's aggression and attack on the rules-based order." 

 The United States and the members of the contact group remain committed to supporting Ukraine as a fight for freedom against Russia's illegal and unprovoked invasion.  

The United States has been one of the leaders of the effort to support Ukraine's fight for its existence. The United States has committed more than $35 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including millions of tank and artillery rounds, tens of thousands of antitank weapons, and air defense systems. The United States is also supplying tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, logistics vehicles and specialty capabilities to counter drones, Milley said. 

People sit around a large, three-sided table.
Contact Group
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley host the 11th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. They joined ministers of defense and senior military officials from about 50 nations to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and continue coordination to provide the Ukrainian people with the means to protect themselves against Russia's continued aggression.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 230421-D-TT977-0211

The training effort has also been effective and ongoing. Milley noted there are about 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers participating in training in Germany; 8,800 more have completed the training and returned to Ukraine.  

Milley said the Ukrainian forces have acquitted themselves well against the far larger Russian forces. He said Russia has continued to expend significant manpower in the battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut for very little gain. Russia has resorted to launching indiscriminate rockets and shelling of urban areas. 

"Russia continues to pay severely for its war of choice," the general said. "Unlike Ukrainian forces — who are highly motivated to fight for their country, their freedom, their democracy and their way of life — the Russians lack leadership, and they lack will." 

Two men shake hands.
Milley Greeting
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley greets Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov at the 11th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 21, 2023.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 230421-D-TT977-0028

Milley said Russian morale is poor and their discipline is eroding. "Russia has resorted to tightening conscription laws as they indiscriminately feed their citizens into the chaos of war," he said. "And, so far, they've been quite ineffective in the coordination or direction of combined arms maneuver on the battlefield." 

Even as Russia has lost tens of thousands of service members in battle in Ukraine, even more Russian men have fled their country. "They are trying to avoid fighting in Putin's war," he said.  

Russia continues to fail in achieving its strategic objectives. "They failed to seize Kyiv, they failed to topple the Ukrainian government, and they failed to fracture NATO," Milley said. "In fact, they've done just the opposite. Kyiv stands. The people of Ukraine are emboldened, and NATO has never been stronger." 

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