Pentagon Chief Urges Russian Counterpart Keep 'Lines Of Communication Open' In 1st Call In Months

For the first time since May, the defense chiefs of the United States and Russia spoke by phone on Friday, after relations between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated almost to the point of no contact. 

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin took the opportunity to urge his counterpart Sergei Shoigu to keep "lines of communication" open when it comes to the war in Ukraine, in order to avoid misunderstandings leading to possible unnecessary escalation between the two nuclear-armed powers.

Pentagon Chief Urges Russian Counterpart Keep 'Lines Of Communication Open' In 1st Call In Months

"Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine," a call readout by Brigadier General Pat Ryder indicated.

Austin additionally "underscored the international community's continued support in building Ukraine's enduring strength and safeguarding Ukraine's ability to defend itself in the future." The two defense chiefs said they would remain in "close contact". 

Separately, on the same day, Austin phoned his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov "to reiterate the unwavering US commitment to supporting Ukraine's ability to counter Russia's aggression," according to a statement.

This has of late included plans to speed up arms and equipment in order to better prepare Ukrainian forces for the harsh winter months. However, Russia has for this very reason of seeming endless and bottomless support to Ukraine forces in the form of weapons and other aid charged that the US has become a party to the conflict. Moscow has also accused the US and its Western partners of blocking legitimate efforts at peace talks with Kiev.

The Kremlin side issued its own statement to that effect Friday, stressing that Russian President Vladimir Putin has always remained "opened" to talks since the start of the invasion.

According to TASS, citing Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

"Putin, in fact, has been open to talks from the very beginning. The president has repeatedly said so himself," the Kremlin spokesman noted, commenting on this statement.

He recalled that Putin had tried to initiate talks with NATO, the US and the OSCE even before the special military operation began. "Putin was open to talks when the text of the document between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators was actually agreed upon. So here, in this respect, nothing has changed," Peskov pointed out.

Peskov then said it's actually the Kiev position that's hardened, not Moscow's: "the Ukrainian side has enshrined not continuing talks with Russia," he emphasized, adding, "That is, the Ukrainian law now prohibits any negotiations."

The Kremlin comments were made specifically in response to efforts of Turkey's President Erdogan to mediate a peaceful solution to the still grinding war, and against the backdrop of the Shoigu and Austin phone call.

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