At Washington’s initiative, Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov and his US counterpart Mark Milley discussed issues of mutual interest during the phone call, including the situation in Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said in Moscow on Thursday. Details were not given.
US Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said: “We believe it is important that lines of communication are open.” It is not known what made Gerasimov accept the invitation to the interview. However, Kirby made it clear that the US does not assume that the Russian position in the war against Ukraine has changed.
For the first time since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine began on February 24, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called his Russian colleague Sergei Shoigu last Friday. Austin had urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of further communication.
For weeks Moscow has been accusing Washington of using Ukraine as a battlefield to put pressure on Russia by supplying arms to Kyiv and imposing massive sanctions. Deputy head of the Russian presidential administration Sergei Kiriyenko said that Russia is not fighting Ukraine. «Against us, the united West is fighting, only on the territory of Ukraine, unfortunately with the hands of the Ukrainians. It’s a dramatic thing, but it’s true,” Kiriyenko claimed at a discussion forum.
Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin had made similar statements in the past, accusing US President Joe Biden of wanting to fight to the last Ukrainian soldier. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the US is not interested in Ukraine as a country, but as a tool to destabilize the situation in Europe.
However, Russia has attacked Ukraine and has repeatedly given other reasons for this invasion. The Russian leadership had denied Ukraine’s right to exist. The country is therefore fighting against Russia with Western help for its existence.