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SOUTHEASTERN POLAND — The Pentagon’s top general met his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time in person on Tuesday, traveling by vehicle from a base here in Poland to an undisclosed location near the countries’ border in what appears to be a symbolic show of support Washington is stepping up its military aid to Ukraine.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spent a few hours with Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the top officer in Ukraine’s armed forces, said Col. David Butler, a US military spokesman. The meeting was arranged after it became clear that Zaluzhny would not be able to attend a meeting of senior NATO military personnel in Brussels on Wednesday. Milley met the Ukrainian officer with a group that included five other Americans, an interpreter and security guards. News of the meeting was withheld until its conclusion, with officials citing safety precautions.
“They both felt it was important,” Butler said of the meeting. “It’s important that two very important military leaders look each other in the eye when they talk about very important issues. It makes a difference.”
The meeting came after nearly a year of long-distance meetings between the generals, and as the United States and its allies expand the arsenal of weapons they are making available to Ukraine — including advanced American combat vehicles, European tanks and a range of other equipment — in advance of an expected Counter-offensive against Russian forces.
The amount of training for Ukrainian forces has also grown significantly over the past week as US soldiers in Germany prepare a Ukrainian mechanized battalion to better combine how those troops use US-made weapons to increase their effectiveness on the battlefield maximize, and other US Army personnel in Oklahoma are showing their Ukrainian counterparts how to deploy a sophisticated air defense system.
US involvement in the Ukraine war is deepening, troops are to be trained in Oklahoma
The Kremlin has slammed Western efforts to help Ukraine, accused Washington and its NATO allies of waging a proxy war against Moscow, and raised concerns that Russia will eventually become intolerant of intervention, and the United States or another NATO country could target. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently appointed Milley’s Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimovas, as his supreme commander in Ukraine, a move observers say is a strong indication Moscow is reluctant to end its invasion as the War nears its one-year mark with more than 100,000 dead or wounded on both sides.
Milley arrived in southeastern Poland around 11 a.m. local time and began his meeting with Zaluzhny about two hours later, Butler said. Some Americans traveling with the general, including two journalists, stayed at the military base here – a way station used to channel aid to Ukraine – while Milley traveled closer to the border. Photography was banned during the visit, and US military officials urged journalists to withhold the exact locations.
The meeting came a day after a contingent of civilian Pentagon and State Department officials met in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian officials. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously traveled to Kyiv to show their support for the Ukrainian leader. Milley has not visited Ukraine himself, as the United States appears to have a policy of allowing only the small contingent of American military personnel assigned to the US Embassy in Kyiv to spend time in the country.
Butler said the visit did not raise any significant safety concerns for Milley and that he did not go anywhere that was considered dangerous. The general wanted to share with Zaluzhny his impressions of the Ukrainian unit, which had just started training under the supervision of US soldiers after a visit to Germany on Monday, and Ukraine’s needs ahead of a regularly scheduled Ukraine Contact Group meeting at the end of this one Discuss Week, a gathering of international partners who provided military support to the country during the war.
“General Milley’s job here as a soldier is to be able to describe the tactical and operational conditions on the battlefield and the needs of the military. And he does that on the one hand by understanding it himself, on the other hand by regularly speaking to General Saluzhny.”
The Pentagon plans to significantly expand military training in Ukraine
Tuesday’s visit was the third time Milley had visited the base in south-eastern Poland since the start of the war. The US troops here, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules established by the military, said their mission has expanded in recent months as the range of weapons permitted for transfer has grown.
Military personnel have worked to improve security at the base since the beginning of the war, adding new concrete bunkers and thick sand-filled perimeter walls, commonly known as HESCO barriers, to connect two batteries of Patriot air defense systems deployed in the Feder were stationed in south-eastern Poland.
A US soldier assigned to the Patriot unit said Tuesday some have been assigned to the base since March and they are not sure when another unit of soldiers will arrive to replace them and replace them. That’s not unusual for Patriot units, but the lack of predictability has weighed on the unit, the soldier said.
The device operates continuously, with its alarm status increasing and decreasing depending on the events of the day.
“We have to react properly to the situation,” said the soldier.
War in Ukraine: What you need to know
The newest: Russia on Friday claimed to have taken control of Soledar, a heavily contested salt mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged in recent days, but a Ukrainian military official claimed the battle is not over.
Russia’s Gambling: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine and Western efforts to band together to thwart the Kremlin’s plans through in-depth interviews with more than three dozen senior US, Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.
Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground since the war began – here is some of their most impressive work.
How can you help: Here are ways people in the US can support the people of Ukraine, as well as what people around the world have donated.
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