Despite tensions reaching fever-pitch, communications between NATO and Russia appear to be open as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu held his second phone call with the United States in three days. On Sunday, Shoigu spoke with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in a barrage of phone calls with three other defence ministers from NATO countries.
The phone calls over the weekend show a shift in communications between Russia and NATO as Friday marked the first time since May at Austin and Shoigu had a conversation.
While Moscow has revealed no details about the phone call, the notes from the other phone calls show that the Russian defence minister warned that the situation in Ukraine is worsening.
The Russian defence ministry discussed the call between Shoigu and the French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu in which “they discussed the situation in Ukraine which is rapidly deteriorating”.
The Russian minister warned that the situation “is trending towards further uncontrolled escalation”.
The warning came after Shoigu held a phone call with UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace in which he claimed that Moscow was “concerned about possible provocations by Kyiv involving the use of a dirty bomb”.
The comment has received wide backlash from Ukraine and its allies as the United States said it “rejected any pretext for Russian escalation” as it dismissed Russia’s unsubstantiated claims.
In response to the comment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia is “the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war”.
Mr Wallace fought the accusation from Shoigu that “Ukraine was planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the UK, to escalate the conflict in Ukraine”.
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According to the US Institute for the Study of War, it is highly likely that the Russian Defence Minister “likely sought to slow or suspend Western military aid to Ukraine and possibly weaken the NATO alliance in scare-mongering calls”.
A read out from Austin’s phone call with Shoigu was revealed by The Pentagon and showed that Austin “reaffirmed the value of continued communication”.
Despite the regular communications over the weekend, it has not been made known if there have been any positive results from the numerous discussions.
However, the continued open dialogue while tensions are at their highest show that there is a conscious effort from both sides to stay in communication.