US, Russia defence chiefs discuss Ukraine war in rare phone call | News
Few details have emerged about Friday’s conversation, but both sides confirmed discussion of the Ukraine war during the chat.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a rare phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu about the talks in Ukraine, according to the defense ministries of both countries.
The Pentagon on Friday declined to provide specifics beyond that Austin, who initiated the conversation, stressed the need for a line of communication amid the war in Ukraine.
“Main issues of international security – including the situation in Ukraine – were discussed,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Few details emerged about Friday’s conversation – only the second call between ministers since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. In May, Austin urged Moscow to make a “” immediate ceasefire”.
The call came as pro-Kremlin officials in eastern Ukraine said they were turning the southern city of Kherson into a “fortress” as Kyiv’s forces advanced. Ukraine on Friday said it had recaptured a total of 88 towns and villages in the region since launching an offensive to retake Kherson in September.
Kyiv’s forces in recent weeks – with the support of Western weapons – have advanced along the western bank of the Dnieper towards the main city of Kherson.
Ukraine’s push to the south follows a sweeping counter-offensive in the northeastern region of Kharkiv that has severely weakened Russia’s supply routes and logistics corridors in the eastern Donbas region.
‘Russia doubles down on its aggression’
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington saw no evidence that Russia was interested in ending aggression against Ukraineand “double and triple” instead. However, Austin said the US will stay in touch with Russia.
“We see no evidence of that at this time. On the contrary, we see Russia double and triple in terms of its aggression,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
Russia’s ‘terrifying’ attack
Blinken points to recent Russian attacks on power plants and other civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and the military mobilization that Blinken calls “terrible, fodder that Putin is trying to throw.” into the war”.
“The fundamental difference is that Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their land, their future. Russia doesn’t and President Putin understands that and comes to a conclusion the sooner we can end this war,” Blinken said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Energy Minister said that Russian air strikes hit at least half of Ukraine’s heating capacity, causing billions of dollars in damage since October 10, although not all of it. all of those power units have stopped working completely.
Germany’s Galushchenko told Reuters news agency that Ukraine may need electricity imports to get through the winter after the attacks hit 30-40% of the electricity infrastructure and that traders have been negotiating with suppliers. .
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday urge the West warned Russia against blowing up a dam in southern Ukraine that could cause severe flooding.
Russia accuses Ukraine of making the dam itself and plans to destroy the dam, which Kyiv officials call a sign Russia might blow up and blame Ukraine.
Neither side presented evidence to substantiate their allegations.