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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke Friday with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the first time in months, urging “an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby says.

The call between Austin and his Russian counterpart is the first since Feb. 18, according to Kirby. It’s also the first since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, which has now lasted 79 days.


“Secretary Austin urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication,” Kirby said.

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Russia’s Ministry of Defense, in a statement about the callsaid the two officials “discussed topical international security issues, including the situation in Ukraine.”

In late March, Kirby told Fox News that the Biden administration has been trying different avenues to reach the Kremlin, but to no avail.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on Feb.  27.

Then in mid-April, Shoigu – in a meeting with military officials – accused the United States and other Western countries of trying to “delay” the course of the war in Ukraine by sending shipments of weapons to Kyiv’s military.

“Increasing volumes of foreign arms deliveries clearly demonstrate their intentions to provoke the Kyiv regime to fight to the last Ukrainian,” Shoigu said at the time.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pose for a picture during their meeting on April 24 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said Thursday that as the war drags on, Russia’s withdrawal of troops from a Ukrainian region that they encircled at the beginning of the war is proving their “inability to capture key Ukrainian cities.”

Fox News’ Liz Friden and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.