The US defense boss called his Russian counterpart and urged a ceasefire

In a call marking the first time in months that senior US and Russian military officials have spoken officially, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III has urged his counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, to consider a ceasefire in Ukraine .

The Pentagon released a reading of the unannounced meeting between the two on Friday morning, the first since Russia launched its war in Ukraine 79 days ago, which lasted about an hour.

“Secretary Austin urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, noting that the latest The time the two men spoke was on February 18, eight days before the Kremlin launch. invasion of Ukraine.

The communications between Shoigu and Austin come amid heightened fears of a nuclear war between Russia and NATO nations, which could add Finland and Sweden in the coming weeks, putting the created military alliance at risk. originally to be a force against the Soviet Union at the gates of Russia. The Kremlin has made it clear that if these two nations join NATO, it may require a military response from Russia on the grounds that the move jeopardizes its national security interests.

The call marked the first time a senior US government official had spoken with the Kremlin in an official and meaningful way since the start of the war. President Joe Biden last spoke to President Vladimir Putin in early February and has since declined, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken – who canceled a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before the invasion – hasn’t officially spoken to a senior Kremlin diplomat in months.

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