Gen. Mark Milley meets with Gen. Valery Zaluzhny near the Ukrainian borderThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spent several hours with Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, a senior officer in Ukraine’s armed forces, said Col. David Butler, a U.S. military spokesman. The meeting was arranged after it became clear that Zaluzhny would not be able to attend a meeting of NATO’s top military officials in Brussels on Wednesday. Millie was accompanied by five other Americans, an interpreter and security personnel. News of the high-level interaction was withheld until it was over, with officials citing precautionary measures.
“They talked at length about the defense that Ukraine is trying to make against Russian aggression,” Butler said of the meeting. “And that’s important — when you have two military professionals looking each other in the eye and talking about very, very important topics, it makes a difference.”
The face-to-face meeting it came after a year of remote meetings between the generals as well as the US and its allies expand the arsenal of weapons they provide to Ukraine — including advanced US combat vehicles, European tanks and an array of other equipment — ahead of an expected counteroffensive against Russian forces.
The scope of training provided to Ukrainian forces has also grown significantlywith American soldiers in Germany now training a Ukrainian mechanized battalion to better combine how those troops use U.S.-made weapons to maximize their effectiveness on the battlefield, and while other U.S. Army personnel in Oklahoma show their Ukrainian counterparts how to they use complex air defense system.
The Kremlin has sharply criticized Western efforts to help Ukraine, accusing Washington and its NATO allies of waging a proxy war against Moscow and raising concerns that Russia could eventually grow impatient with the intervention and turn to the United States or another a NATO country. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently named Milli’s Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimovas its top commander in Ukraine, a move observers say is a strong indication that Moscow has no desire to end its incursion as the war nears its one-year mark with more than 100,000 killed or wounded on both sides.
Milli arrived in southeastern Poland around 11 a.m. local time and began her meeting with Zaluzhny about two hours later, Butler said. Some Americans traveling with the general, including two journalists, remained at the military base here — a staging post used to funnel aid to Ukraine — while Milli traveled closer to the border. No photography was allowed during the visit, and the US military asked journalists not to report the exact locations.
The meeting came a day after a contingent of civilian officials from the Pentagon and the State Department met in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken traveled to the Ukrainian capital earlier in a show of support for the Biden administration. Milley has not visited Ukraine because the United States appears to maintain a policy in which only the small contingent of US military personnel assigned to the US Embassy in Kyiv spend time in the country.
Butler said the visit did not pose significant safety concerns for Millie and that he did not go anywhere believed to be unsafe. The general wanted to provide Zaluzhny with his impressions of the Ukrainian part, which had just begun preparations the supervision of American soldiers in Germany after visiting them on Monday, and to discuss Ukraine’s needs ahead of a regularly scheduled meeting later this week of the Contact Group on Ukraine, a gathering of international partners who supported the country militarily during the war.
“Gen. Millie’s job here as a military man is to be able to describe the tactical and operational conditions of the battlefield and what the military needs are. And the way he does that is one by figuring it out on his own, but two by talking to a gene regularly. Useless.
Tuesday’s visit marked the third time Mili has visited the base in southeastern Poland since the war began. US troops here, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the military, said their mission had expanded in the past few months as the pool of weapons approved for transfer grew.
Military personnel have been working to improve security at the base since the start of the war, adding new concrete bunkers and thick, sand-filled exterior walls known as HESCO barriers to join two batteries of Patriot air defense systems that were deployed in southeast Poland in spring.
A U.S. soldier assigned to the Patriot unit said Tuesday that some had been assigned to the base since March and that they were unsure when another unit of soldiers might arrive to rotate in and replace them. That’s not unusual for Patriot units, but the lack of predictability has put a strain on the unit, the soldier said.
The device runs continuously, with its alert status changing and expiring according to the day’s events.
“We have to react properly to the situation,” said the soldier.
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