Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, General Mark Milley, embarked on a series of phone conversations amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, their initial talks reportedly hit a rough patch, as Zaluzhnyi candidly admitted in an interview with The Washington Post that he felt as if he were “talking to himself” at the end of their first conversation.
Zaluzhnyi, reflecting on those early interactions, confessed, “Frankly speaking, due to my youth and stupidity, I admit that it was my mistake. It was actually a disaster.”
This initial hiccup marked a setback in the intricate relationship between the two military leaders, who later developed a close personal rapport while working together to support Ukraine in its existential battle against Russian aggression.
Nonetheless, even as their camaraderie deepened, differences and occasional tensions persisted. American officials pledged continued arms support, but at times, Ukraine’s demands grated on their patience.
“I can’t even imagine if it had been anyone else,” Zaluzhnyi mused. “We have a friendship. It’s hard to imagine. He’s an older man, but he’s cool.” Zaluzhnyi’s jests about Milley’s age, as noted by The Washington Post, reflected the comfortable rapport between the two generals.
Milley, in a recent interview with The Post, denied any significant disagreements with Zaluzhnyi, highlighting the intense pressure faced by his Ukrainian counterpart given the invasion of his country. “His back is up against the wall,” Milley acknowledged. “The fact that somebody gets a little angry and mad is absolutely normal. And I understood that. I’m 5,000 miles away.”
One notable point of contention was the fighter jets issue, specifically regarding the types of aircraft to be provided to Ukraine. Zaluzhnyi contested the accuracy of U.S. intelligence data on Ukraine’s aviation capabilities, stressing the urgent need for aircraft.