The United States government is experiencing divisions regarding the issue of arming Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, according to a report by Politico. General Mark Milley, who is serving his last week as the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has had to navigate these disagreements during his four-year tenure. Politico claims that the timing of Milley’s transition is particularly critical considering the state of the conflict in Ukraine.
During Milley’s time as the senior-most military commander, the Pentagon has faced criticism from US officials who believe that weapons have not been sent to Ukraine quickly enough. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham expressed frustration with the administration for the slow approval of arms supplies to Kiev. Additionally, an anonymous senior administration official stated that there were tensions between the military and the State Department regarding the issue.
The source explained that the State Department was focused on examining opportunities, while the Defense Department was more concerned with assessing potential threats. The responsibility for weighing the pros and cons of each weapons decision falls on the Defense Department. Milley has argued that his approach has been to provide Ukraine with the necessary weapons at specific junctures, taking into account Washington’s own needs and contingencies, including “escalation management” and the desire to avoid an all-out war with Russia.
Last year, Milley sparked anger in Ukraine when he urged Kiev to seek a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. However, the Ukrainian government, under President Vladimir Zelensky, rejected any peace talks with Russia and declared that a military victory was the only acceptable outcome. By August, it was reported that the White House had conceded that Milley “had a point” and that the opportunity for negotiations had been lost, as the Ukrainian summer counteroffensive did not achieve the expected results.
Moscow sees the conflict in Ukraine as a Western proxy war against Russia, with the argument that the United States is willing to fight “to the last Ukrainian.” The slow approval of new arms supplies to Kiev has only heightened frustrations among some officials in Washington. However, as General Milley’s term comes to an end, his successor, Charles Brown, the chief of staff of the US Air Force, will have to navigate these divisions and challenges in arming Ukraine. The situation remains delicate and precarious, considering the ongoing conflict and the differing perspectives within the US government.