War in Ukraine: Hour-long phone call between US Secretary of Defense and Russian counterpart – after months of trying | World News

Groundbreaking talks took place between the US and the Russian Defense Minister – after months of refusal.

Sergei Shoigu spoke for an hour with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who, according to the Pentagon, called for an “immediate ceasefire”.

Austin said that while the call didn’t resolve any “acute issues,” it was an important step in keeping the lines of communication open.

Initiated by Austin, the conversation marked the highest-level American contact with a Russian officer since the war began in late February.

In recent months, Pentagon officials have repeatedly said that Russian leaders have refused to take calls from Austin and General Mark Milley, chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Friday’s conversation came hours after Lloyd spoke with UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace in Washington to discuss next steps to help Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian forces for 79 days.

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In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence says that his country will win the war over Russia by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military claims to be making more gains. He says he destroyed at least 73 Russian tanks and other equipment during a river battle in the Donbas region.

Images released by Ukrainian forces appeared to show several burned-out military vehicles and segments of a partially submerged bridge after the fighting over the Siversky Donets River in Bilohorivka.

The MoD agreed that Russia had lost “significant armored maneuver elements” from at least one battalion tactical group in the attack.

A Russian battalion tactical group consists of about 1,000 soldiers.

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update.

Other important developments:

• Russian soldier on trial in Ukraine’s first war crimes case
• The European Commission plans to waive EU competition rules to allow governments to cap prices in the event of a complete loss of Russian gas supplies, according to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag
• Germany begins training Ukrainian soldiers to use 155 mm self-propelled howitzer
• Russian agents ‘believe Putin is terminally ill’ after top-secret memo, report claims
• EU pledges €500m more in military aid to Ukraine and says Russian oil embargo is near

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Analysis: Russian attacks on Chernihiv

And in his nightly address to his people, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy also highlighted important military gains.

He said his troops shot down the 200th Russian plane of the war and noted Russia’s heavy losses in tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters and drones.

He also claimed that Russia had lost 27,000 soldiers since the start of the war.

He reiterated his call to the world to pressure Russia through sanctions and for economic and equipment support to Ukraine.

“This is the only recipe for protecting freedom in the face of Russian invasion,” he said.

“And for Western countries, this is not simply an expense. It’s not about accounting, it’s about the future.”

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