United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a call with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. The Pentagon chief additionally spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu. It was the first time Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart since May.
Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh reported Austin held a call with the Ukraine defense chief, Oleksii Reznikov on Friday morning. The Defense Secretary told Reznikov, "the United States continues to work with Ukraine to ensure the country has what it needs to defeat the Russian invaders," according to a Department of Defense press release. Singh added, "the two leaders pledged to remain in close contact."
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder provided further details about the conversation. Austin reiterated "the unwavering US commitment to supporting Ukraine’s ability to counter Russia’s aggression," Ryder said.
Washington and Moscow provided limited information about the conversation between their respective defense chiefs. Ryder said, "Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine." The Kremlin stated, "Topical issues of international security – including the situation in Ukraine – were discussed."
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, contact between any Russian and American officials has been infrequent. Austin last spoke with Shoigu on May 13. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last spoke with top Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov in July, but the conversation was limited to a potential prisoner swap.
President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin are both expected to attend next month’s G20 summit in Bali. The White House is attempting to regulate Biden’s schedule to prevent any contact with Putin at the conference of world leaders.