Austin says Putin has ‘probably given up’ on taking Kyiv

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin has “probably given up” on taking the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

According to a report by Fox News, Austin’s statement came Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee where both he and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke.

Both military leaders said they believe that Putin has changed his focus and is now aiming his forces at taking the southeastern area of Ukraine.

“Putin thought he could really rapidly take over the country of Ukraine, very rapidly take over the capital city; he was wrong,” Austin testified. “I think Putin has probably given up on his effort to capture the capital city and is now focused on the south and east of the country.”

This came after Milley testified before a House committee that the Ukraine war was going to last “at least years for sure,” following up his previous dire prediction for Ukraine to Congress on Feb. 2 and 3, saying Ukraine would likely lose 15,000 troops compared to Russia’s 4,000.

When pressed by Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass) on Tuesday regarding the timeline of the conflict Milley said that there was a lot of possible time and territory left in the war in Ukraine.

“It’s a bit early, still,” Milley responded. “Even though we’re a month-plus into the war, there is much of the ground war left in Ukraine. But I do think this is a very protracted conflict, and I think it’s at least measured in years. I don’t know about a decade, but at least years for sure.”

Milley’s comments came as the United States and NATO have said that they won’t deploy troops to defend Ukraine and President Joe Biden joked about the possibility of an expanded conflict with Russia on Wednesday.

“This fight is far from over,” Biden said in a speech to U.S. union workers. “Here’s the point: This war could continue for a long time, but the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom. And by the way, if I gotta go to war I’m going with you guys. I mean it,” he added.