US-Russia military hotline used only once since start of war in Ukraine: Report

The Pentagon is seen in Virginia.
The Pentagon is seen in Virginia. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

US-Russia military hotline used only once since start of war in Ukraine: Report

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A “deconfliction” hotline between the United States and Russia has only been used once since Russia invaded Ukraine nine months ago, according to an anonymous U.S. official.

The official claimed that the United States initiated the call between the two countries, though he or she did not clarify what specifically prompted the call or when the call was made. The U.S. called Russia to inform the country of its concerns regarding Russia’s military operations being made near critical Ukrainian infrastructure, according to Reuters.

The one event that did not prompt the U.S. to call Russia, however, was the recent missile strike on NATO member Poland, according to the official. A Russian missile that killed two people struck Poland on Nov. 15, with the missile believed to have been launched by Ukrainian air defense, according to NATO.

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The Pentagon had created this communications line in March to avoid conflict in NATO airspace or on the ground, with a senior U.S. defense official clarifying that it is not meant to be “an all-purpose complaint line.” The U.S. has other means to communicate with the warring country, including military channels used for rare discussions between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to the outlet.

The deconfliction communications line is intended to focus more so on daily operations rather than top-level discussions, according to Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow and a former senior Pentagon and NATO official. A similar communications line the U.S. has with Syria, where U.S. and Russian military forces are occasionally simultaneously located, has been more active, Vershbow said.

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Anonymous U.S. officials had previously stated toward the start of the war that the communications line between the U.S. and Russia could be used to help U.S. residents evacuate from areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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