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U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, seen here on July 21, 2021, in Arlington, Va., spoke with a top Russian military leader about growing tensions over Ukraine.
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, seen here on July 21, 2021, in Arlington, Va., spoke with a top Russian military leader about growing tensions over Ukraine. (Alex Wong, Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The top military officers of the U.S. and Russia spoke Tuesday as tensions remain high over Moscow’s deployment of about 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, talked by phone about “several security-related issues of concern,” according to a statement from the Joint Chiefs. Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed the call, Interfax reported, without providing details.

“The phone call is a continuation of communication between both leaders to ensure risk reduction and operational de-confliction,” according to the U.S. statement. “In accordance with past practice, both have agreed to keep the specific details of their conversation private.”

The call comes after the Biden administration shared intelligence with European allies that shows a buildup of Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations if President Vladimir Putin decides to invade, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Ukraine’s defense minister visited Washington last week and said he asked the Pentagon for more help defending the country’s airspace and coast.

“We need to cover our sky and our sea,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told reporters at Ukraine’s Embassy in Washington on Friday, after meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon.

Citing sources it didn’t identify, CNN said Monday that the Biden administration is considering the request, weighing whether to provide weapons such as helicopters and anti-tank missiles and send military advisers to Ukraine.

Russian officials have repeatedly said they have no intention of starting a war, adding that troop movements on their side of the border are solely an internal matter. Also last week, Putin said his nation has succeeded in raising the specter of a threat over Ukraine and should keep the U.S. and its allies on edge.

“Our recent warnings have been noticed and had an effect. A certain tension has appeared there,” Putin said in a speech to diplomats at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow. “We need for this condition to remain as long as possible, so nobody gets it into their head to cause a conflict we don’t need on our western borders.”

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