US and Russian defence ministers discuss Ukraine in rare talks

The US and Russian defence secretaries have spoken in a phone call, in a rare moment of high-level contact between the two countries since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, reports citing BBC.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu spoke on Friday, the two countries confirmed.

Both sides said the situation in Ukraine was discussed.

It is the first time they have spoken since a call on 13 May.

After Friday's call, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told the BBC that the US was "eager to keep lines of communication open".

"It has been since May since the two gentlemen spoke, so Secretary Austin took today as an opportunity to connect with Minister Shoigu," he said.

Russia's defence ministry said that "current questions of international security were discussed, including the situation in Ukraine".

After their previous conversation in May, Mr Austin urged his counterpart to call an immediate ceasefire - a request that was not mentioned this time.

It comes after hints from Russian President Vladimir Putin that he may be willing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and warnings against this from US President Joe Biden.

Officials in both the US and the UK say they believe the chances of Mr Putin carrying out these veiled threats are low.

Asked if the call had been scheduled as a response to this issue, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that while Putin's hints had been "irresponsible and concerning", the US has seen "no indication at this time" that Russia has decided to use nuclear weapons.

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