Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with his Russian counterpart on Thursday, which marks the first time the two defense officials have talked since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February.
The Pentagon had repeatedly attempted to arrange calls between Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Russian counterparts, though that had largely been unsuccessful until recently. Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, last Friday.
“Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley spoke today with Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov by telephone,” Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs, said in a readout of the call. “The military leaders discussed several security-related issues of concern and agreed to keep the lines of communication open. In accordance with past practice, the specific details of their conversation will be kept private.”
Milley and Gerasimov had most recently spoken on Feb. 11.
During his call with Shoygu, Austin “urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement to reporters.