Gen. Milley talks on phone with Russian defense chief amid tension over Ukraine
The phone call took place amid increasing Western concerns over a buildup of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine, and predictions from Kyiv that Moscow is preparing to invade the country in early 2022 - a charge Moscow denies.
The top military officers from the United States and Russia spoke over the phone on Tuesday to discuss "security-related issues of concern," defense officials from both countries said.
The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, spoke with the Russian head of the General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the officials confirmed.
The phone call took place amid increasing Western concerns over a buildup of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine, and predictions from Kyiv that Moscow is preparing to invade the country early in the new year.
"The military leaders discussed several security-related issues of concern," Milley's office said in a statement. "The phone call is a continuation of communication between both leaders to ensure risk reduction and operational de-confliction. In accordance with past practice, both have agreed to keep the specific details of their conversation private."
The Russian Defense Ministry echoed the statement with one of its own.
"On November 23, 2021, Russian Armed Forces General Staff head - First Deputy Defense Minister Army General Valery Gerasimov had a phone call with US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, during which the senior military officials discussed the ongoing issues of international security," the ministry said.
Moscow has dismissed speculation that it plans to attack Ukraine.
Western media reports regarding "Russia’s plans of invasion in Ukraine" are an "empty and groundless" escalation of tensions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Moscow's official state media outlet, Tass. Russian troop movements within Russian territory "should not cause concerns in anyone, because Russia is not a threat to anyone," Peskov said.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov last week said that he has asked for more military assistance from Washington, following a large buildup of Russian forces along the border. Ukraine needed the assistance because, he noted, that in order "to stop [Russian] aggression, we need to show the cost will be too high."
Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014, and has supported separatist conflict in two of Ukraine's eastern provinces.