“There are a lot of rumors about President Putin’s health and, as far as we can tell, he is completely healthy,” he said. sarcasticadding that “it was not an official intelligence verdict.”
In the lead-up to the invasion and in the months that followed, Putin was portrayed as more than that cranky and irrational. Widespread speculation that he was ill, possibly with cancer, continued to spread as the war dragged on.
Burns said about 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war in Ukraine. He said as many as 45,000 others were wounded, citing the latest US intelligence on Russian casualties. “The Ukrainians also suffered – maybe a little less, but … big losses,” Burns said.
General Mark A. Milley, the top US military officer, told reporters on Wednesday that Russian forces had captured only six to ten miles of new territory in the past 90 days after concentrating their efforts on seizing eastern Ukraine. “The bottom line is that the cost is too high, the benefits are too low, and there is a war of attrition,” he said.
Some days, Milley said, “Progress is literally hundreds of metres.”
The United States is also considering sending more advanced weapons to Ukraine, amid Kyiv’s fears that Russian forces could be further entrenched if the war continues into the winter, making counterattacks more difficult. “After the winter, when the Russians have more time to drill, it will definitely be more difficult,” Andrey Yermak, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said on Tuesday.
Those weapons could include warplanes, General Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, He said Wednesday. Brown did not say what type of aircraft it was, but said the options included US-made and European-made fighter jets.
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