Russia

Pentagon: Russian defense officials have declined to take multiple calls from US counterparts

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby says that Russian defense officials have declined to take multiple calls from their U.S. counterparts since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. 

Speaking to Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday, Kirby said that the U.S. has tried on “multiple occasions” to connect Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley with their counterparts.

“We made multiple — multiple — attempts here, but they have not answered up. They have declined to take these calls,” he continued.

Kirby’s comments come after The Washington Post first reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Valery Gerasimov have declined to engage with Austin and Milley.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also not communicated with his Russian counterpart, the Post reported. 

Moscow’s war against Ukraine is entering its second month, and the Biden administration has imposed crippling sanctions on Russia’s economy while continuing to provide Ukraine with humanitarian and security assistance.

Despite these difficulties, Kirby said that Washington still has ways of communicating with Moscow. He noted that the U.S. could communicate through the U.S. Embassy in Russia and through the U.S. defense attaché to Russia. 

The Pentagon also established a de-confliction line with the Russian Ministry of Defense on March 1 in an effort to prevent miscalculations or escalations in the invasion.

“So there are vehicles, we still have military-to-military communications with the Russians,” Kirby said. “But at the senior levels, where we think it’s really important particularly right now, that’s not happening. And it’s not happening because the Russians don’t seem to be interested.”

Tags Antony Blinken John Kirby Lloyd Austin Mark Milley

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