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US and Russian defense ministers talk on the phone for the first time since the Ukraine war

WASHINGTON

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu for the first time since Moscow began its war against Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Friday.

During the call, Austin “urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

He did not provide additional details about the conversation.

The last time Austin and Shoygu spoke was February 18, six days before Russia began its assault on Ukraine.

At least 3,573 civilians were killed and 3,816 others injured during Russia’s war, which began on February 24, according to UN estimates. The actual number of victims is feared to be much higher.

More than 6 million people have fled to other countries, and about 7.7 million people have fled, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

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