As Russia’s war on Ukraine approaches its first anniversary, the top American military official travelled to Poland and spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart there for the first time.
General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the head of the Ukrainian military, and US Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had a two-hour meeting at an unannounced site in southeast Poland close to the Ukrainian border.
Zaluzhnyi claimed that he discussed with Milley on Tuesday the “immediate demands” of his forces.
Over the past year, the two leaders have spoken often about the war’s progress and Ukraine’s military needs, but they have never actually met.
The gathering takes place as the international community increases its military support for Ukraine. This support includes the US expanding its training of Ukrainian troops, the US providing tanks, and Patriot missile batteries, and a coalition of European and other countries providing increased air defence and other weapons systems.
This was the generals’ first face-to-face encounter despite their frequent communication since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022.
“My first personal meeting with #GenMilley, Chairman of @thejointstaff,” Zaluzhniy wrote on Twitter to confirm the encounter.
He expressed his gratitude for the United States and other allies’ “unwavering support & assistance,” he said. The Ukrainian military’s pressing needs, he continued, are what “will accelerate our victory.”
The conference took place as Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities and forces, primarily in the country’s east, intensified during the previous 24 hours and as Western allies prepared to meet in Germany to discuss providing Ukraine with offensive weapons like tanks, a primary goal of officials in Kyiv.
The Russian military shelled 15 communities close to the disputed city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, including the strategically important town of Soledar, which has been all but completely levelled by Russian fire, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in its daily report on January 17.
Russian soldiers would be able to move closer to Bakhmut, where fierce fighting have been going on for months if Moscow were to win in Soledar.
It also denotes a significant period in the war. Ukraine’s army is engaged in severe combat in the eastern Donetsk province, where Russian forces are trying to turn the tide following a string of recent battlefield defeats with the help of thousands of private Wagner Group contractors.