Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Tuesday met with the commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny, at an undisclosed location in Poland near the Ukrainian border.
The highly symbolic meeting marked the first time the two military leaders held in-person talks. Col. David Butler, a US military spokesman, told The Washington Post Milley and Zaluzhny spent a few hours together.
The meeting was arranged after it became clear Zaluzhny would not be able to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels that’s scheduled for Wednesday. Milley made the trip after visiting Ukrainian troops in Germany as they started a new expanded US training program, another symbolic trip by the highest-ranking US military officer.
Butler said Milley wanted to discuss the training program and Germany and also Ukraine’s military needs, but no other details of the meeting were provided.
About 100 Ukrainian troops also arrived in Oklahoma this week to begin training on the Patriot air defense missile systems, the first such program being held on US soil. Both training programs and Milley’s meeting with Zaluzhny reflect Washington’s ever-growing involvement in the war, and the Biden administration shows no sign of looking to de-escalate despite the risks of provoking Moscow.
Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are set to attend a meeting at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. Austin has led the meeting since the war began, and military officials from about 50 countries usually participate.
More aid from NATO countries is expected to be announced at the meeting, as well as a new weapons package from the Pentagon. The meeting comes after Britain pledged to send its Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, and more NATO countries could announce this week that they are also sending tanks.