US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart for the first time on Friday since before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon announced.
“On May 13, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu for the first time since February 18," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
Austin "urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication," Kirby said.
The phone call between Austin and Shoygu lasted for about an hour on Friday, a senior US defense official told reporters Friday.
Austin requested the two leaders speak, the official said, noting that the US secretary of state "initiated it."
"Both leaders had a chance to talk back and forth with one another, but I’m not gonna get any more into the context of it," the official added, saying Austin expressed an "interest in keeping the line of communication," between the two leaders open.
This is the first time the two leaders have spoken in 84 days, since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.