Defense

Milley speaks with Russian counterpart for first time since start of war

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke with his Russian counterpart on Thursday, the first such conversation between the two since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February, according to the Pentagon. 

Milley spoke by phone with Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, and they “discussed several security-related issues of concern and agreed to keep the lines of communication open,” Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a readout of the conversation. 

The Pentagon did not provide further information on the conversation.  

Asked about the call later on Thursday, U.S. European Command head Gen. Tod Wolters said he hopes the talk will bring the two sides “one step closer to achieving a diplomatic solution” to end the war. 

 “I think what we all want the most is for diplomacy to come to the forefront,” Wolters told reporters following a meeting of NATO officials in Brussels.  

The last time the two military officials spoke was on Feb. 18, six days before Russia first attacked Ukraine. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, less than one week ago, also for the first time since Feb. 18. 

Prior to both conversations, the Pentagon had consistently tried to reach out to Russian defense officials through a special “deconfliction” hotline based at the U.S. European Command’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. But until last week, the U.S. outreach was repeatedly rebuffed, according to defense officials. 

Tags Lloyd Austin Mark Milley Sergei Shoigu Tod Wolters

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