War in Ukraine: Milley speaks with his Russian counterpart for the first time since the conflict began

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

Milley spoke to Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov about “several security-related issues,” said joint staff spokesman Colonel Dave Butler in a reading of the call.

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

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Details of the call were withheld, but both military leaders reportedly agreed keep the lines of communication open.

US European command chief and NATO European Supreme Allied Commander General Tod Wolters said they hoped the talks would bring the two sides “one step closer to reaching a diplomatic solution.”

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

Milley’s Thursday call comes just a week later Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a phone call with the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

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

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

None of the US officials had spoken to their Russian counterparts since the week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

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

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