US, Russian Defense Chiefs Discuss War in Ukraine in Rare Phone Call | news

Few details emerged from Friday’s talks, but both sides confirmed that they discussed the Ukraine war in the talks.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has had a rare phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, with the Ukraine war playing a role in the talks, according to the defense departments of both countries.

The Pentagon declined to provide details Friday, except that Austin, who initiated the call, stressed the need for lines of communication amid the war in Ukraine.

“Current international security issues – including the situation in Ukraine – were discussed,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Few details emerged from Friday’s talks – only the second phone call between the ministers since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24. Austin had already called on Moscow in May to introduce an “immediate ceasefire”.

The call comes as pro-Kremlin officials in eastern Ukraine said they would turn the country’s southern city of Kherson into a “fortress” while Kiev’s troops advanced. Ukraine said on Friday it had recaptured a total of 88 towns and villages in the region since it launched its offensive to retake Kherson in September.

Kyiv’s forces have been advancing along the west bank of the Dnieper River towards the region’s capital, Kherson, in recent weeks, supported by Western weapons.

Ukraine’s push south comes after a full-scale counteroffensive in the northeastern region of Kharkiv that severely disrupted Russia’s supply routes and logistics corridors in the eastern Donbass region.

“Russia is stepping up its aggression”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington saw no evidence that Russia was interested in ending its aggression against Ukraine and instead “doubled and tripled”. However, Austin said the US would remain in touch with Russia.

“We haven’t seen any evidence of that at the moment. On the contrary, we see Russia doubling and tripling its aggression,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

Russia attacks “terribly”.

Blinken cited Russia’s recent attacks on power plants and other civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and the mobilization of troops, which Blinken described as “appalling cannon fodder that Putin is trying to throw into the war.”

“The fundamental difference is that Ukrainians are fighting for their country, their country, their future. Russia isn’t, and the sooner President Putin understands that and comes to that conclusion, the sooner we’ll be able to end this war,” Blinken said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s energy minister said Russian airstrikes have hit at least half of Ukraine’s thermal generation capacity and caused billions of dollars in damage since Oct. 10, though not all of those power plants have completely stopped working.

German Galushchenko told Reuters that Ukraine may need electricity imports to weather the winter after attacks hit 30 to 40 percent of electricity infrastructure and traders were already negotiating with suppliers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday urged the West to warn Russia not to blow up a dam in southern Ukraine that would cause severe flooding.

Russia has accused Ukraine of firing rockets at the dam and planning to demolish it, which Kiev officials said was a sign Russia could blow it up and blame Ukraine.

Neither side presented evidence to support their claims.

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