In first since Ukraine invasion, Pentagon chief speaks with Russian counterpart

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine when he spoke by telephone to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday (May 13) for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon said.

Austin has tried multiple times to try and talk with Shoigu since the invasion started nearly three months ago, but officials said Moscow had appeared uninterested.

Austin stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the call, which was requested by Austin, lasted about an hour but did not solve any specific issues or lead to direct changes in what the Russians are doing in Ukraine.

The official described the tone of the call as “professional.”

Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying that the call happened “at the initiative of the American side”.

“Topical issues of international security were discussed, including the situation in Ukraine,” TASS said, quoting the ministry.