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


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For the first time since the war in Ukraine began more than three months ago, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke on the phone to his Russian counterparts Thursday. 

Milley spoke with Russia’s Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov on “several security-related issues of concern,” Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a readout of the call. 

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley listens during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Washington. 

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley listens during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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The details of the call have been kept quiet, but both military leaders reportedly agreed to keep the lines of communication open. 

Head of U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Tod Wolters said he hopes the talks will bring the two sides “one step closer to achieving a diplomatic solution.”

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 “I think what we all want the most is for diplomacy to come to the forefront,” he told reporters following NATO’s announcement that it has established a new militaristic strategy in the wake of Russia’s aggression in Europe. 

Milley’s Thursday call comes just one week after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, addresses the media during a press conference after the meeting of the Ukraine Security Consultative Group at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, Tuesday, April 26, 2022. 

Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, addresses the media during a press conference after the meeting of the Ukraine Security Consultative Group at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany, Tuesday, April 26, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Neither U.S. official had spoken with their Russian counterparts since the week before Russia invaded Ukraine.  

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A senior U.S. defense official told reporters following the call that it was unclear why Russia was now agreeing to hold talks after months of attempts from Washington. 

But officials remain hopeful that the lines of communication will remain open as Russia continues to escalate its war in Ukraine. 

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