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Pentagon chief, new Russian defense minister talk for the first time

by Kateryna Denisova June 26, 2024 12:16 AM 1 min read
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin talks to the media at the seventh gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein air base in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany, on March 19, 2024. (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a phone call with Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov on June 25, Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said at a briefing.

This is the first time Austin spoke to Belousov since the latter was appointed as Russia's defense minister in May, replacing Sergei Shoigu in a surprise reshuffle of Russia's security and defense apparatus.

"During the call (with Belousov) the secretary emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amidst Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine," Ryder said.

The conversation took place as Russian troops are trying to conduct offensives in Donetsk and Kharkiv oblasts.

Moscow has yet to comment on the talks between Austin and Belousov.

The Pentagon chief had a call with Shoigu in March 2023 in the wake of a Russian jet downing a U.S. drone over the international waters of the Black Sea.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on June 25 that it has issued arrest warrants for Shoigu and Russia's General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov for war crimes against Ukraine.

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