“This is not a roundabout,” General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of the training. “This is one of those times where if you want to change, this is it.”
The general’s visit was his first visit to the Bavarian mudflats since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago. Its base, covering about 90 square kilometers, was first occupied by Ukrainian troops in 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian island of Crimea. It is now home to a newly expanded force of the Ukrainian military, which has sent a contingent of more than 600 soldiers to spend up to six weeks training to deploy tanks, artillery and other weapons to increase its effectiveness against Russian opposition. troops stationed in Ukraine.
While in Grafenwoehr, the Ukrainians stayed at Camp Kherson, named in honor of the city that Ukrainian forces liberated in November.
Three American journalists were allowed to cover Milley as he interacted with the Ukrainian military on the condition that no photos or videos were taken, and the details of their conversations were not revealed. The United States and its allies continue to boost their military aid to the government in Kyiv, but officials are increasingly concerned about how that aid is reflected in Russia. The Kremlin has accused the United States and NATO of using Ukrainians to fight against Moscow.
Later on Monday, the US military released one photo from the mission shows Milley inspecting the course next to a group of US soldiers, including Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Hilbert, commanding general of the 7th Army Training Command established at the installation.
Milley also visited another Army headquarters in Wiesbaden, west of Frankfurt, where a meeting was being held with Ukrainian military officials. Journalists were not allowed to watch the meeting, and details were not disclosed.
The General’s visits to Germany came as senior officials and Biden visited Kyiv. Wendy Sherman, deputy secretary of state; Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy; and Jon Finer, deputy security adviser at the White House, met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials.
Ukrainian soldiers started arriving in Grafenwoehr last weekend and started their training on Sunday. Milley saw them at a prominent location and was familiar with the US-supplied Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, the advanced weapons that President Biden approved to be sent to Ukraine earlier this month when the Pentagon said it wanted to help Ukraine take back its territory from Russia.
In the 40-degree heat, Milley sparred with Ukrainian soldiers and questioned them about their history and military skills, sometimes in English and sometimes through an interpreter. Their work is fast, Milley said, and they have international support. The conversation was punctuated by occasional gunfire, as nearby Ukrainian soldiers honed their skills with M240B rifles and machine guns.
Milley’s spokesman, Col. David Butler, said that the training is in addition to what the United States has provided since 2014. It is part of the international effort, Butler said, to help the Ukrainian military to expel Russian enemies.
“The urgency was obvious,” Butler said. “These soldiers are going to defend their country in war.”
Milley, speaking on Sunday while flying from Washington to Europe, emphasized the timing of the effort while admitting that it is not known how the Ukrainian group brought to Germany will be prepared to use new weapons in the fight.
“It’s going to take time,” Milley said. “Five, six, seven, eight weeks, who knows. We’ll see what happens here. But as for his opposition, the need is here.”
Milley is expected to spend a week in Europe, also visiting facilities used as a conduit for arms to Ukraine and meeting with allied military officials. On Friday, he will join Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the latest meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, a regular meeting of international defense officials who are ready to help Ukraine in the war and evaluate the weapons it can provide.
Officials said that while Ukraine emphasizes its desire for tanks and other armored vehicles, its biggest need is air defense, a problem confirmed by Russia’s weekend missile attack on a building in the city of Dnipro that killed. many people.
“They’re being hit every few weeks with massive attacks, and they’re being attacked by civilians,” the official said. “The Russians know, as a matter of principle, that they are attacking civilians and infrastructure. That in itself is a war crime.”
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