The heads of the Russian and United States militaries held a rare and urgent phone call on Tuesday in efforts to deescalate soaring tensions in eastern Europe, with both sides cryptically confirming it was to discuss "current" international security issues.
Russia's most senior military general, Valery Gerasimov, held the call with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, in which the two top generals talked about "pressing issues of international security". The past days have witnessed heightening rhetoric and threats being exchanged between Moscow and Washington over tensions in Ukraine and Belarus, especially given recent reports from US media over a Russian force build-up and planned "invasion" of eastern Ukraine, reports which the Kremlin has vehemently denied.
The US side's readout of the call acknowledged it was for the purpose of rapid "de-confliction" between the two superpowers, also coming the same day CNN reported the Biden administration is now mulling additional weapons and military trainers for Ukraine.
No additional details or specifics of the military-to-military call were revealed; however, it was without doubt related to a building new Ukraine crisis, following the US allegations of a massive Russian troop build-up near Ukraine for a potential imminent invasion.
At the start of this week it was revealed that the Biden administration was reported to have briefed the European partners that Russia on the supposed planned invasion of eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin has been fierce in its response rejecting the accusations, with some thinly-sourced Western reports suggesting as many as 100,000 active duty Russian troops and reservists were being mustered for a major offensive operation.
A report in US News and World Report that tensions are fast approaching a breaking point, leading to the potential for a 'Ukraine crisis 2.0' amid the tit-for-tat accusations:
Through a series of public statements and posts through its state news services, leaders in Russia on Monday presented the unified case that Ukraine was needlessly deploying its military forces to challenge Russia’s sovereignty and its nearby interests, that rising concern in the West of military action by Moscow represents only an attempt by Kyiv to mask its own intentions to do so, that the Western-backed peace process for the conflict in Ukraine is broken and that Kyiv’s allies in Europe and North America are not prepared to back up their pledges of support.
Just prior to the Tuesday military deconfliction phone call between the US and Russia being revealed, on Tuesday Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that US nuclear-capable bombers had drastically ramped up their flights across Eastern Europe, close to Russia's border.
Earlier this month, on Nov.10, Russia had sent its own strong message by flying a pair of Tu-22M3 bombers along Belarus' border with the EU, amid the ongoing migrant crisis standoff between Belarus and Poland. This was combined with verbal warnings from Putin and Kremlin officials that NATO must not cross Russia's "red lines" in Ukraine.