U.S. defense chief talks with Russian counterpart

U.S. defense chief talks with Russian counterpart

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart Friday, making the first time the two men have been in contact since Moscow launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in late February.

Pentagon press spokesman John Kirby said Austin urged an immediate cease in Ukraine during his hourlong discussion with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.

A senior Defense Department official said Mr. Austn sought the opportunity to speak with Mr. Shoygu.

“He believes it was important to make that call,” the Defense Department official told reporters.

“It wasn’t for lack of trying that we haven’t been able to establish communications.”

Pentagon officials declined to release information about the discussions between the top military leaders in Washington and Moscow.

“The Secretary did express an interest in keeping the lines of communication open,” the senior Defense official said. “The message was received with respect to keeping the lines open.”