Defense Secretary Austin meets with Russian Defense Minister for first time in months, urges ceasefire

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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday for the first time in months, calling for “an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine”, it said. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

The call between Austin and his Russian counterpart is the first since Feb. 18, according to Kirby. It is also the first since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, which now lasts 79 days.

“Secretary Austin called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication,” Kirby said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 11.
(AP/Jose Luis Magana)

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The Russian Defense Ministry, in a statement on the call, said the two officials “discussed current issues of international security, including the situation in Ukraine.”

In late March, Kirby told Fox News that the Biden administration had tried different routes to reach the Kremlin, but to no avail.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 27.
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 27.
(Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via Reuters)

Then in mid-April, Shoigu – in a meeting with military officials – accused the United States and other Western countries of trying to “delay” the course of the war in Ukraine by sending shipments of weapons to the kyiv army.

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“The growing volumes of foreign arms deliveries clearly demonstrate their intentions to provoke the kyiv regime to fight to the last Ukrainian,” Shoigu said at the time.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy April 24 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy April 24 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Thursday that as the war drags on, the withdrawal of Russian troops from a Ukrainian region they encircled at the start of the war proves their “inability to capture major towns Ukrainians”.

Fox News’ Liz Friden and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

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