Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Only Has a Month Left, Predicts U.S. General Mark Milley

US General Mark Milley looks on during the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein-Miesenbach, southwestern Germany on January 20, 2023. - The United States convenes a meeting of around 50 countries -- including all 30 members of the NATO alliance -- at the US-run Ramstein …
ANDRE PAIN/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine likely only has around 30 days left in order to make significant gains in its counteroffensive, the highest-ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces has warned.

Speaking to Britain’s public broadcaster, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley predicted that the looming winter would not only freeze the ground but also the current lines in the war between Russia and Ukraine, and therefore would mean that if Zelensky’s government wishes to recapture occupied territory from Moscow, his forces would need to do so in the next four weeks.

Admitting that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had gone slower than expected, Milley told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday that “there’s still a reasonable amount of time, probably about 30 to 45 days’ worth of fighting weather left, so the Ukrainians aren’t done.

“There’s battles not done… they haven’t finished the fighting part of what they’re trying to accomplish.”

Despite minimal gains made over the summer against the heavily fortified Russian lines, Gen. Milley claimed that it was still to early to declare that the counteroffensive had been a failure.

“I said at the very beginning of this [war] that this was going to be long, slow, hard, and high-casualty-producing, and that’s exactly what it is,” he said.

The head of military intelligence for Ukraine, Lt Gen Kyrylo Budanov also acknowledged over the weekend that the coming winter would likely have an impact on the war but said that “the fighting will continue one way or another”.

Budanov said that the typically cold and wet weather makes it more difficult for wheeled vehicles to transport weapons and soldiers and that Russia’s anti-tank defences are strong. “So in the majority of cases, unfortunately, our offensive is walking on foot,” he said.

While the Ukrainian forces surprised the international community last year in their early successes against the invading Russian army, there has been growing concern over the ability of Zelensky’s army to retake land that is now occupied by the Russians in the Donbas and in the south along the Black Sea.

In response to the mounting pressure, the Ukrainians have increasingly sought to place blame elsewhere, with President Zelensky saying last week that the reason for the counteroffensive failures was a result of the West not supplying enough weapons, namely warplanes, and therefore the Russian air force has been able to determine the fate of many battles.

With the looming limitations of the weather, it is likely that Kyiv will seek to increase its campaign of drone strikes against Russia, which has seen targets from Moscow to ships in the Black Sea be targeted. The effort to bring the war “closer to home” for the Russian people has been backed by the international community so far, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who declared that drone attacks on the Russian mainland were legitimate actions to take during war.

Yet, it remains to be seen how much longer the Western alliance will be able to maintain its support for the proxy war with Russia.

Writing in London’s Daily Telegraph over the weekend, Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired British military officer, said: “Time is running out for Ukraine. After 18 months of war, it is no longer a question of if the Western alliance will falter, but when.”

“Western military analysts and the media built expectations that, this summer, Kyiv would repeat its striking victories of last autumn at Kharkiv and Kherson. Now, people are wondering how much bang they are getting for their buck, and whether the significant investment made by their countries will ever achieve anything concrete,” he continued, pointing to growing opposition among citizens in the U.S. and Europe against sending more military aid to Ukraine.

For now, it seems that the Biden administration — keen to avoid another military blunder after Afghanistan — is intent on doing just that, however, with the White House currently lobbying Congress for billions more in military aid to Ukraine on top of the $113 billion already committed to the conflict.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter: or e-mail to:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.