Day 267: US General Doubles Down on Need for Negotiations; Biden at Odds with Zelenskyy

After raising eyebrows last week by suggesting it was the right time for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, America's top general and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, doubled down on his comments at a Pentagon press conference on Wednesday.

Day 267: US General Doubles Down on Need for Negotiations; Biden at Odds with Zelenskyy
Image credit: Getty Images [via The Washington Post]

Facts

  • After raising eyebrows last week by suggesting it was the right time for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, America's top general and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, doubled down on his comments at a Pentagon press conference on Wednesday.
  • "You want to negotiate from a position of strength. Russia right now is on its back," Milley said. "Now Ukraine has had great success," he added. "But Kherson and Kharkiv are relatively small. So in terms of probability, the probability of a Ukrainian military victory, defined as kicking the Russians out of all of Ukraine, to include what they claim is Crimea... is not high, militarily."
  • Milley said the expected let up in fighting due to winter conditions could provide that window for negotiations. "If there's a slowdown in the actual tactical fighting, if that happens, then that may become a window possibly, it may not, for a political solution, or at least the beginnings of talks to initiate a political solution."
  • Meanwhile, Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy challenged the assertion that it was a Ukrainian air-defense missile that landed in Poland, killing two civilians. However, after returning from the G20 summit in Indonesia, US Pres. Joe Biden told reporters at the White House: "That's not the evidence."
  • Elsewhere, Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Thursday that the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine have agreed to extend the Black Sea grain deal for an additional 120 days before it was set to expire on Nov. 19. While Russian officials have yet to comment on the extension, they had previously raised doubts they'd return to the deal, stating that sanctions on Russian exports of grain and fertilizer had not been eased as was agreed.
  • On the ground, Russia launched renewed attacks on energy infrastructure on Thursday, striking facilities in Odesa and Kharkiv, where three civilains were reported injured. Russian attacks were also recorded in Zaporizhzhia, where four civilians were reported killed, and in Dnipropetrovsk, where 14 civilians were reported injured. Ukrainian officials added that two missiles and four drones were shot down over Kyiv.

Sources: CNN, Newsbud, US News, Tass, and Pravda.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by CNN. Almost everyone agrees a diplomatic solution is the only way to end this war. While Ukraine is in a position of strength and a slowdown of fighting is expected, this may be the optimal time for a negotiated settlement.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Bulwark. Driving Russia completely out of Ukraine is not only in Ukraine's interest, it's in the West's wider interests as it will prevent Putin's authoritarianism from spreading elsewhere. Now is the time to double down on support for Ukraine in pursuit of these aims.

Predictions