Austin speaks with Russian defence minister

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Belousov warned of the dangers of continued US arms supplies to Ukraine, highlighting the risk of escalation….reports Asian Lite News

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with his Russian counterpart Andrey Belousov. This was Austin’s first phone call with Belousov, as he emphasised the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

This was Austin’s first phone call with Belousov, and he emphasised the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, Pentagon stated.

Belousov warned of the dangers of continued US arms supplies to Ukraine, highlighting the risk of escalation.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent actions have severely strained US-Russia relations. Recently, Russia accused the US of involvement in a Ukrainian missile attack on Crimea.

US weapon supplies to Ukraine resumed in April with a $61 billion aid package, with the US supporting Ukraine’s demands for Russian withdrawal and restoration of post-Soviet borders.

In a previous call, Austin had criticised Russian pilot behaviour leading to a US drone crash in the Black Sea.

Ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow has consistently framed the conflict as a proxy war with Western support.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller addressed reporters, asserting that the US supplies weapons to Ukraine to safeguard its sovereignty. Ambassador Tracy conveyed regret over any civilian casualties resulting from the recent escalation, as reported by Al Jazeera.

The Kremlin has strongly criticised the US decision to allow Ukraine to deploy supplied weapons against targets within Russian territory, warning of potential escalation and repercussions.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, the attack on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula involved five US-supplied Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles. The ministry reported that four missiles were intercepted, while a fifth exploded in mid-air.

Moscow alleged that US specialists coordinated the missile strikes using data from American spy satellites.

“Such actions by Washington … will not be left without response,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday as it summoned the ambassador. “There will definitely be response measures.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov condemned the missile strike as “absolutely barbaric” during a press conference, affirming that Moscow would respond to US involvement.

“You should ask my colleagues in Europe, and above all in Washington … why their governments are killing Russian children,” he suggested to reporters present, according to Al Jazeera.

He also referenced President Vladimir Putin’s recent remarks on supplying armaments to potentially strike Western targets, including a new military alliance pact with North Korea, which has raised concerns among Western allies.

Russian officials have issued warnings about the Ukraine conflict entering a perilous phase, with Putin emphasising the risk of broader conflicts involving nuclear powers.

Directly accusing the US of orchestrating a deadly attack in Crimea–a region annexed by Russia in 2014 but internationally recognised as Ukrainian territory–marks a significant escalation in rhetoric.

“We perfectly understand who is behind this,” Peskov said, adding that it was clear who supplied weapons to Ukraine, aimed them and provided data for them.

“Of course, the involvement of the United States in the fighting, as a result of which peaceful Russians are dying, cannot but have consequences,” Peskov said, adding, “Which ones exactly, time will tell,” Al Jazeera reported.

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