Lloyd Austin wants Russia-Ukraine ceasefire in Sergei Shoigu call

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine when he spoke by telephone to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, on Friday, the Pentagon said.

It was the first time since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine that the two men had spoken. Austin stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

The United States and Russia have established a hotline since the invasion — which Moscow calls a “special military operation” — to prevent miscalculation and escalation in the region.

Sergei Shoigu (pictured) and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had not spoken since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The “deconfliction” hotline is an open phone line based at the European Command’s headquarters and falls under Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, who leads all US forces on the continent.