© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin answers questions at the Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee on May 3, 2022 in Washington, U.S. Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Pool via REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine during a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday, the Pentagon said.
It was the first time the pair spoke since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby (NYSE: ) said in a statement that Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication.
Since the invasion, the US and Russia have established a hotline – what Moscow calls a “special military operation” – to prevent miscalculation and escalation in the region.
The De-Conflict Hotline is an open telephone line at European Command headquarters under Air Force General Todd Walters, who leads all U.S. troops on the European continent.