Top U.S. general meets Ukrainian counterpart near edge of war zone

The Pentagon’s top general met on Tuesday for the first time in person with his Ukrainian counterpart, traveling by vehicle from a base here in Poland to an undisclosed location near the countries’ border in what appeared to be a symbolic show of support as Washington intensifies its military assistance to Ukraine.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the top officer in Ukraine’s armed forces, discussed the war with Russia over the course of a couple of hours, 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 gathering Wednesday of senior NATO military officials in Brussels. Milley was accompanied by five other Americans, an interpreter and security personnel. News of the high-level interaction was withheld until it concluded, with officials citing safety precautions.

“They’ve talked in detail about the defense that Ukraine is trying to do against Russia’s aggression,” Butler said of the two officers. “And it’s important — when you have two military professionals looking each other in the eye and talking about very, very important topics, there’s a difference.”

The face-to-face encounter occurred after a year of remote meetings between the generals, and as the United States and its allies expand the arsenal of weapons they are providing to Ukraine — including advanced American fighting vehicles, European tanks and an array of other equipment — ahead of an expected counteroffensive. Ukrainian military commanders want to push out entrenched Russian forces in the east and south of the country while fortifying its defense against continued missile and drone attacks on civilian areas.

The scope of training being provided for Ukrainian forces also has grown significantly, with U.S. soldiers in Germany nowpreparing a Ukrainian mechanized battalion to better combine how those troops use U.S.-made weapons to maximize their effects on the battlefield, and as other U.S. Army personnel in Oklahoma show their Ukrainian counterparts how to use the sophisticated Patriot air defense system.

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