Top US, rUSsia chiefs discuss Ukraine crisis

Top US, rUSsia chiefs discuss Ukraine crisis

Russian and US chiefs of staff have discussed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Mark Milley and the Russian Chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, and the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, held a rare phone call on Thursday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the two top military officials discussed various issues of mutual interest, including the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It noted that the talks were held at the request of the American side. The Pentagon remained tight-lipped, providing no details on the conversation.

Milley said that the military leaders discussed several security-related issues of concern and agreed to keep the lines of communication open. The specific details of their conversation will be kept private, in accordance with past practice. Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, Tod Wolters, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, expressed his hope that the talks between Milley and Gerasimov would bring a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis.

The high-profile talks came less than a week after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke for the first time since the beginning of Moscow's military operation in Ukraine in late February. Since then, there have been few details on the top level talks, with both sides confirming that Austin and Shoigu discussed assorted security issues, including but not limited to, the Ukraine crisis.

Russia attacked the neighboring state after Ukraine s failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.