Defense & National Security — Top US, Ukrainian military officials meet

Defense & National Security — Top US, Ukrainian military officials meet

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Defense & National Security — Top US, Ukrainian military officials meet


Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley for the first time met with his Ukrainian counterpart in person on Tuesday, traveling to an undisclosed site in Poland near the Ukrainian border.

We’ll share how the meeting happened and what was discussed. Plus: Details on the Patriot missile system training Ukrainian troops have begun in Oklahoma, and experts weigh in on Russia’s military leadership changeup in its war against Ukraine.

This is Defense & National Security, your guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell. Subscribe here.


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US, Ukraine military chiefs meet near Polish border

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley on Tuesday met for a few hours with Ukraine’s chief military officer, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, after taking a car from a Polish base to an unnamed location near the Ukrainian border, the Pentagon confirmed. 

The discussion: The two “discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and exchanged perspectives and assessments,” Army Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for Milley, said in a statement. “The Chairman reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”  

Zaluzhnyi also announced the meeting on Twitter, writing that he extended his “gratitude for the unwavering support & assistance provided by [the United States] & allies to [Ukraine]” and “outlined the urgent needs of the [Armed Forces of Ukraine] which will accelerate our Victory.” 

The significance: The two generals’ get-together marks a symbolic show of support as Washington and the international community ramp up the delivery of lethal aid to Kyiv. The West as of late has pledged Patriot missile defense systems, tanks and other new weapons to the embattled country as it struggles to regain control of territory taken by Russian forces in the east and deal with a near-constant barrage of Kremlin drone and missile strikes.   

Timing: The meeting also comes as the war nears the end of its first year, with Russian forces, along with thousands of private Wagner Group contractors, appearing to dig in for the long haul. Moscow on Tuesday also announced an effort to grow its military to 1.5 million troops over the next several years.   

Butler told reporters traveling with Milley that the two generals thought it was important to meet face-to-face, according to The Associated Press. 

The setup: Butler added that after it became clear Zaluzhnyi would not be able to travel to Brussels later this week for a meeting of NATO and other defense chiefs, he and Milley made alternate plans to meet in Poland.  

The group traveling to the meeting was kept small — just Milley and six of his senior staffers — with the conversation focused on new U.S. training of Ukrainian forces in Germany as well as to gather Zaluzhnyi’s concerns to then relay the information to other military leaders at the NATO meeting.   

Up next: Milley now plans to travel to Brussels, where he will participate in high-level NATO meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a gathering of the Ukraine Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Thursday and Friday.  

Ukrainian troops begin Patriot missile training in US

Ukrainian troops have arrived at Fort Sill, Okla., and started training on the Patriot missile system, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.  

“Training has begun … that training will last for several months and train upwards of 90 to 100 Ukrainians on use of the Patriot missile system,” press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters.   

The location: Fort Sill — home to the Fires Center of Excellence and Patriot training for U.S. troops and forces from other countries — a day earlier announced that the Ukrainian troops had arrived at the Army base.   

“The same instructors who teach U.S., allied and partner nations will conduct the Ukrainian training, and these classes will not detract from the ongoing training missions at Fort Sill,” according to a statement from the base. 

Speed up: Ryder last week said that training on the advanced long-range air defense system is expected to take “several months.” Patriot instruction typically takes up to a year, but defense officials are aiming to speed up the timeline for the Ukrainians. 

Training elsewhere: The start of Patriot training in Oklahoma coincides with the kickoff of an expanded U.S. training program for Ukrainian troops in Germany. 


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “flailing” decision this month to name a new leader for his invasion of Ukraine reflects a growing sense of desperation for the Kremlin, U.S. experts say.   

The appointment of Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the former chief of Russia’s general staff, as overall commander of the country’s so-called special military operation has global watchers increasingly dubious of Putin’s wartime strategy following a series of embarrassing battlefield losses since summer.   

A coming escalation?: But the switch-up, which included the demotion of Gen. Sergey Surovikin, head of the invasion since October, could also indicate a coming escalation of Russia’s brutal war tactics.   

“My sense is that Putin is flailing because he’s not getting what he wants,” former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor told The Hill. 

“His military is failing. He’s trying to shake things up in order to get a better outcome, and that’s not the problem. … His military is not capable of doing what he wants for all kinds of institutional, historical, corruption, competence reasons, and shaking up the command structure, I don’t think it is going to get him what he wants.” 


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Germany ahead of Friday’s meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group 

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville will speak in person at an Association of the U.S. Army “Coffee Series” event at 6:30 a.m.   

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will discuss ocean security challenges at 9 a.m. 

The Hudson Institute will host a virtual discussion on “Enhancing Cybersecurity, Information Security, and Industrial Security as the Foundation for Japan’s Defense Transformation,” at 10 a.m.  

The Navy Memorial will hold a virtual talk with Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Gregory Todd at 1 p.m.  

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law will host a discussion on “Secret War: Unauthorized Combat and Legal Loopholes,” at 3 p.m.  

The Institute of World Politics will hold a seminar on “Foreign Leaders Analysis: A Profile of Xi Jinping,” at 5 p.m.


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That’s it for today!  » …
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