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US general calls Ukrainian, Russian counterparts over reported Russian troop movements

Russian military parade marking the 73rd anniversary of Victory in the 1941–45 Great Patriotic War. (Kremlin/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A top U.S. general called his counterparts in Russia and Ukraine on March 31 amid reports of a buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border and in Crimea, the Pentagon confirmed on March 31.

Defense Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley called top military leaders in Russia and Ukraine and said the Pentagon is aware of Ukrainian military reports concerning Russian troop movements near Ukraine’s borders.

“Russia’s destabilizing actions undermine the de-escalation intentions that had been achieved through an OSCE-brokered agreement back in July of last year,” Kirby told a briefing, referring to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a cease-fire it brokered with Ukraine and Russia.

“We are discussing our concerns about this increase in tensions and cease-fire violations and regional tensions with NATO allies,” Kirby said.

Kirby referred questions about the specifics of Milley’s call to his office but said: “I suspect that the outreach by the chairman today…with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts certainly covered [the Pentagon’s] concerns.”

Milley spoke with General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Armed Forces chief of staff, and General Ruslan Khomchak, chief of the general staff of the Armed Forces, according to French news agency AFP, quoting an unidentified U.S. official. Russia’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the call, AFP said.