“We want Ukrainians to be able to successfully defend their country,” Milley said. “Ukraine is doing nothing more than defending itself and trying to liberate Ukraine occupied by Russia.
The training, which was first revealed as planned late last year, will begin as the United States and its allies add to a growing list of weapons that could be used in an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive within months. The Biden administration on January 6. approved a $3 billion arms transfer, the largest arms transfer to Ukraine since Russia invaded nearly a year ago, as the administration seeks to work with other allies to provide similar weaponry. Among the weapons in the US package are 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and motorized howitzer artillery.
Other countries, including Britain, Poland and France, have pledged additional weapons, including battle tanks, while Ukraine has pressed Germany to do the same. Milley said the challenge will be determining how soon the Ukrainian military will be ready and trained to use all the new military equipment. The situation will be facilitated by the fact that some Ukrainian forces are already familiar with other armored weapons, such as the T-72 tank.
“It’s going to take some time,” Milley said. “Five, six, seven, eight weeks, who knows. We’ll see what happens here. But in terms of its criticality, the need is now.
The general plan is to spend a week in Europe, meet with European counterparts, observe training, observe logistics centers through which weapons flow, and participate in a planning conference involving NATO allies and the Ukrainian military. On Friday, he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will attend a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, which brings together countries backing the government in Kiev to assess what Ukraine needs and commit to what it can provide.
Milley said Ukraine’s top priority is to find more air defenses, an ongoing challenge highlighted by Saturday’s Russian missile attack on a civilian apartment complex in the city of Dnipro that killed dozens of people.
“Every few weeks they suffer from really significant attacks and attacks on civilian infrastructure,” the general said. “The Russians deliberately attack civilians and civilian infrastructure as part of their policy. That in itself is a war crime.”
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