U.S. and Russian Defense Chiefs Hold First Call in Over a Year Amid Tensions

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov had their first call in over a year, discussing the importance of open lines of communication amid rising tensions over U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine. The Pentagon and Russia gave differing accounts of the conversation, reflecting their conflicting stances.


Reuters | Updated: 26-06-2024 04:38 IST | Created: 26-06-2024 04:38 IST
U.S. and Russian Defense Chiefs Hold First Call in Over a Year Amid Tensions
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The U.S. and Russian defense chiefs spoke by telephone on Tuesday for the first time in more than a year and the two sides gave widely divergent accounts of the conversation.

The Pentagon said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov discussed the importance of open lines of communication. Austin initiated the conversation and it was the first such call since March 2023, Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder told reporters.

Russia's Defense Ministry said Belousov warned Austin of the dangers of continued U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine in its 28-month-old conflict with Russia. "A.R. Belousov pointed to the danger of further escalating the situation through continued supplies of American weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces," the ministry statement said on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, its annexation of four of its regions and its slow advance through eastern Ukraine have plunged Moscow's relations with Washington to their lowest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. In the latest of a long series of allegations, Moscow last weekend said the United States was responsible for a Ukrainian attack on the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula with five U.S.-supplied missiles that killed four people.

Supplies of U.S. weapons to Ukraine resumed in April with Congressional approval of a $61 billion aid package. The United States says it stands by Ukraine's demands for Russian troops to leave Ukraine and for the country's post-Soviet borders to be restored. In Austin's last such call, with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the defense secretary said he had pointed to risky behavior by Russian fighter pilots that caused a U.S. drone to crash in the Black Sea near Ukraine.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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