DoD: Russian Defense Officials ‘Have Declined to Take the Calls’ From Austin and Milley

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hold at a press conference on January 28, 2022. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hold at a press conference on January 28, 2022. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Washington is calling but the Russians aren’t answering, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Fox News on Thursday.

« We think that communication with the Russians is important, particularly now – in fact now more than ever, to be able to communicate with our Russian counterparts and make sure that we can convey our continued concerns about the manner in which they are prosecuting this unprovoked war, » Kirby said outside NATO headquarters in Brussels.

« We have tried on numerous occasions to connect (Defense) Secretary Austin with his counterpart. Chairman Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has also tried to connect with his counterpart. We’ve made multiple attempts – multiple attempts here, but they have not – they have not answered up. They’ve declined to take these calls.

“I will say, it is not like we don’t have any communication with the Russians. We can do that through our embassy. We have a defense attaché in Moscow. We have a deconfliction line, of course, that we’re using that’s really not so much for normal comm (communications), but in order to be able to deconflict, particularly in an airspace as you get closer to NATO’s eastern flank.

“So there are vehicles. We still have military-to-military communications with the Russians, but at the senior level where we think it’s really important, particularly right now – that’s not happening and it’s not happening because the Russians don’t seem to be interested.”

Kirby said the Ukrainians are « definitely becoming more effective on the battlefield, » in some places moving from defensive to offensive postures. He noted that the Ukrainians have kept the Russians out of Kyiv, even pushed them back from their forward positions.

Kirby also said weapons shipments from the U.S. and NATO are « arriving every day, » many of them from Poland.

« We’re moving things through as fast as we can. It’s going on the ground, it’s going through numerous routes. Obviously, we don’t want to talk about what those routes are, » Kirby said.

“We have not seen the Russians attempt to strike any of these convoys, these shipments of materiel inside Ukraine. We’re watching this very, very carefully, as you might expect but so far we have not seen any attempt by the Russians to stall or to slow these convoys.

« They have their hands full right now quite frankly in places like Kyiv and Chernihiv and even Kharkiv and down in the south near Crimea. I mean, they have their hands full dealing with a much more aggressive Ukrainian defense, as I said, now going on the offense.

“And one of the reasons they’re able to do that is because they continue to get this ready and rapid flow of security assistance.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department formally declared that « members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. »

Kirby said on Thursday, « We have clear evidence that the Russian forces are committing war crimes and we’ve been very honest about that. We’re, as well as the international community, going to continue to garner the evidence.

« There are numerous investigations going on, some at the international level. Our State Department is kind of leading a legal review for the United States. We’re going to continue to garner and collect the evidence, make sure it’s available to the investigators. »

“Clearly there will be consequences,” he added.

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