Russia assures Hagel it won’t invade Ukraine

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu assured Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during a phone call on Monday that Russian forces would not invade Ukraine, according to the Pentagon. 

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"The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues related to the situation in Ukraine, with Sec. Hagel requesting clarification of Russia's intentions in Eastern Ukraine. Minister Shoygu reiterated his assurance that Russian forces would not invade Ukraine," said a statement by Pentagon press secretary Adm. John Kirby.  

Hagel had reached out to Shoygu Thursday, when the Russian defense minister announced new military exercises near the eastern border of Ukraine, but Shoygu had not returned his call until today. 

During the call, Hagel emphasized how dangerous the situation remains and expressed his desire to find a responsible way forward, Kirby said.

Regarding Ukrainian security forces' recent actions against pro-Russian protestors, Hagel reiterated the right of Ukraine to preserve law and order within its own borders, he said. 

Hagel also asked Shoygu to secure the release of seven inspectors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe currently being held in eastern Ukraine. 

Hagel warned that continued aggression would further isolate Russia and result in more diplomatic and economic pressure, and called upon Russia to implement the April 17 Geneva agreement to de-escalate tensions. 

"Sec. Hagel and Min. Shoygu agreed that the two leaders should have continued conversations seeking a way forward," Kirby said.