Top United States and Ukraine Military Chiefs Meet For First Time

January 18, 2023
A Ukrainian flag

… 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.

Army Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for Army Gen. Mark Milley – the United States’ top military chief. On Tuesday, Milley met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, in person for the first time.

Why It Matters: The two military leaders met in southeastern Poland at an undisclosed location and spoke for a couple of hours. Their meeting emphasized "the growing ties between the two militaries … coming at a critical time as Russia's war with Ukraine nears the one-year mark" (The Associated Press).

Timing: This week, Milley will attend a meeting between NATO defense chiefs in Brussels and will meet with the Ukraine Contact Group (a group of about 50 defense leaders who work to provide assistance to Ukraine). During the NATO military chiefs' meeting, Butler said Milley will be able to "describe the tactical and operational conditions on the battlefield and what the [Ukrainian] military needs are for that," not only by "understanding it himself but also by talking to Zaluzhnyi on a regular basis."

Big Picture: On Monday, Russia began conducting air force drills with its ally, Belarus, along the border with Ukraine. Belarus describes these drills as "purely defensive in nature," however, the drills are causing concerns about Russia's future military actions. Reuters explains: "The ongoing buildup of Russian troops in Belarus, combined with a flurry of military activity in the country, is an echo of what was happening there just before Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine when Moscow used the country as a springboard to launch the attack."

Readout of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley's Meeting with Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi (Joint Chiefs of Staff)

US, Ukraine top military chiefs meet in person for 1st time (The Associated Press)

Russia and Belarus Stage Military Exercises on Ukraine's Border in Show of Force (The Wall Street Journal)

Also on Monday: Pentagon's top general meets Ukrainians training with U.S. troops (The Washington Post)

by Jenna Lee,