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What Did Lloyd Austin Say to Russia’s Defense Secretary This Week?

F-15EX
F-15EX. Image Credit: Boeing.

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Secretary Sergei Shoigu on Friday, for the first time since February.

In a phone call that last approximately one hour, the U.S. defense secretary called for a ceasefire between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

The call was facilitated by a “deconfliction” hotline that was established in the wake of the invasion in the hope of preventing escalation in the region. The hotline is available to European counterparts too but has been largely unused. In March, the Russian defense minister repeatedly declined calls from Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Secretary Austin.

A brief readout of the call simply states that Austin called for an “immediate ceasefire.” However, the call has not yet resulted in any changes to Russia’s plans in Ukraine, nor does it appear likely that it will have any effect.

What Happens Next? 

Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine in the first place was driven largely by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failure to receive assurances from Western countries that Ukraine would be allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. Since then, Russia has demanded that Ukraine demilitarize and adapt its constitution to prevent future membership of a Western military alliance.

Peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia also stalled after the two sides could not come to an agreement over these matters and more. While the United States plays a large role in establishing peace in the region, a combination of disagreements with Ukraine and the U.S. government’s previous comments about Russia may hurt the prospect of a ceasefire or peace agreement.

In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explicitly stated that the United States intends to hurt Russia’s military capabilities. Austin himself said that he hopes that Russia is left unable to recover from the conflict in Ukraine – a markedly different approach than many European leaders.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned this week against “humiliating” Russia at the end of the conflict in Ukraine in the way that Germany was humiliated in the wake of the first World War.

During a press conference in Poland, Austin insisted that Russia should be “weakened.”

“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” Austin said, adding that Russia should “not have the capability to very quickly reproduces” the weapons and equipment it lost in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not known for his willingness to accept defeat.

U.S. experts on Russia claimed in 2016 that repeated hacking campaigns against the United States government and businesses were a response to embarrassment.

Fiona Hill, national intelligence officer for Russia during both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, said that Putin was “giving [America] the finger” and that “hacks are meant to intimidate the hell out of us.”

Kremlin officials have also repeatedly threatened nuclear conflict in the event that Russia faces an “existential threat,” suggesting that Russia accepting defeat is not yet on the cards.

If Putin is this determined in Ukraine, is it possible for the Kremlin to negotiate peace with American officials who have explicitly called for Russia to be hurt to the point that it cannot recover?

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Him

    May 15, 2022 at 2:22 am

    Nothing the West says to Russians can get though to them, because Russians interpret everything through a mindset formed from 100 years of Communist Putin-Totalitarianism, from the roots of Marx and Lenin.

    The Russian mind is like a lunatic who thinks everyone wants to attack them.

    The Russians are totally convinced everyone wants to attack them.

    When you try to be friends with Russia – they see that as weakness, where they can attack you to strengthen themselves, so that they won’t be attacked in the future. (This Russian “logic” is sheer evil).

    Everything the Russians think is about others wanting to attack them.

    The entire Russian foreign strategy is to form a buffer against attacking nations.

    So the Russian mind assumes it is “defending” – when Russia attacks Ukraine, because the Russian mind sees this as necessary to form a buffer against future attack. This is the Russian sickness of the mind, where they can fool themselves that attacking others is an act of defence.

    The entire world sees Russia attacking Ukraine, but the Russians see this as Russian defending themselves. This is pure evil in Russian thinking. It enables Russia to commit evil, while assuring themselves that Russia is doing good. This is the twisted mind of Russians.

    With this mental sickness of the Russian mind, that is spread to an entire Russian nation over 100 years of living under brutal dictatorship, you cannot logically talk to a Russian.

    For example, the Russian trolls like Alex – who is a regular in the reader comments – he copies and pastes stories of a Ukrainian military leader, named Bandera, who allied with the Nazi Germans. Alex calls them “Bandera Nazis”. So Alex uses this to accuse Ukrainians of having Nazi roots.

    But in return, when you ask Alex about the entire Soviet Russian nation being allies with Nazi Germany at the start of WW2, he and other Russian trolls are completely silent.

    The Russian mind does not seek righteousness, but their aim is to do anything to make Russia win. I know this from talking with my Russian friend, who lives in Russia. He is a Putin fan because he says Putin makes Russia strong again. He is convinced Russia would never attack NATO first. He is convinced NATO would attack first.

    But you see, the Russian person defines the word “attack” differently. If Russia attacks Finland, in order to weaken Finland from future attack, the Russian sees that attack as being an act of defence. This is the twisted evil of the Russian way of thinking. And because Russian people see this twisted logic in all their propaganda TV, the Russian people assume this way of thinking is normal.

    It is because masses of millions of people around the world are so easily indoctrinated – by their motive to see Russia win – that there is great evil in this world.

    The Bible predicts, in the End Times, one third of the world being killed, and great disasters because of mankind’s evil. But the Bible laments that, even then, the people refuse to repent of their evil deeds.

    • Plenty

      May 15, 2022 at 8:00 am

      You are absolutely right about Russian people they seem to have been inoculated at birth to blame life’s ups on downs in Russia on the West, Putin only lives to impart hurt pain and sorrow on any one who challenges his opinions . Putin is a pathetic little mass murdering repulsive poor excuse for a man so obsessed with the West it has consumed his little bit of demented mind he has left.His troops are as bad as Stalins at the end of ww2 red Russian communists in Germany raped over 2 million girls and women causing 10 thousand to committ suicide ( god bless them) all because of barbarian acts of terrorist barbarian bastards called Russians, they are scum to a man/woman in the military any way and when it’s over from Putin through the ranks they all should be found guilty of war crimes and atrocities then hung drawn and quartered before incineration to rid the evil Black hearted bastards stench death for ever.

      • Timbuck

        May 15, 2022 at 8:02 am

        Say no more your bang on the money

  2. Alex

    May 15, 2022 at 11:17 am

    A demobilized French soldier, author of the book “Get up and go thanks to science” Adrien Boke went to Ukraine on a humanitarian mission and spent three weeks there.

    Upon his return, he decided to convey to the French information about the events he had witnessed in Ukraine.

    “I take full responsibility for what I say. While in Ukraine, I witnessed war crimes. All of them were committed by the Ukrainian army. But in France we don’t talk about it!

    When I returned to France from Ukraine, I was shocked: TV channels invite as experts people who have not been to Ukraine and do not know anything about what is happening there now. However, they dare to speculate about these events. Between what I hear from the TV screen and what I saw with my own eyes is an abyss.

    Azov fighters are everywhere. With neo-Nazi stripes. It shocks me that Europe is supplying weapons to neo-Nazis. Not only do they not hide their views. They advertise them. I worked with these people and treated them.

    Being there, there was nothing I could do. Just watch and make videos. I have this footage and will use it as evidence of Ukraine’s crimes.

    I witnessed how the Ukrainian military shot through the knees of captured Russian soldiers and shot in the head higher-ranking officers.

    I have personally seen American videographers making fake footage from the scene of the events staging.

    All destroyed civilian buildings, given out by Ukraine for bombardment of civilians, are nothing more than the result of inaccurate shooting by Ukrainians at military facilities.

    The Armed Forces of Ukraine hide ammunition in residential buildings at night, without even informing the residents. This is called using people as a shield, ”Boke quotes one of the French media.

    The Washington Post recently drew attention to the fact that Ukrainian troops are placing military equipment in residential areas of cities in an attempt to counter the Russian Armed Forces, which threatens the lives of civilians.

    Boke also spoke about the untruthfulness of Western media reports about the events in Bucha.

    “Bucha is a staging. The bodies of the dead were moved from other places and deliberately placed in such a way as to produce shocking footage, ”the French author noted.

    The documents confirming this were submitted to the Federal Security Service – how, who – there are relevant intercepts – on what transport he came to this settlement and created the conditions for organizing this provocation.

    Soon all the collected evidence about the crimes of the Nazis in Ukraine will be seen by the whole world. And the most important thing is the help of Western countries to the Nazis of Ukraine and assistance in their crimes.

  3. mcswell

    May 15, 2022 at 11:53 am

    “Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine in the first place was driven largely by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failure to receive assurances from Western countries that Ukraine would be allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.” Is there a missing negation here? like “that Ukraine would NOT be allowed to join”.

  4. Alex

    May 15, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    A journalist from the United States, Lara Logan, during the broadcast of the Real America’s Voice program, accused the Western media of lying about the Russian special operation in Ukraine:

    “I really think there is so much misinformation right now. We have never seen anything like it. I’ve been covering military conflicts for 35 years now and I’ve never seen anyone with their fingernails decorated with the Ukrainian flag. I mean, we are being driven into such a framework where we have to hate Vladimir Putin and believe everything bad that is said about him and love Ukraine. There is simply no other position.”

    A lot of things are happening in Ukraine that we don’t talk about. This concerns the history of Ukraine, the Azov battalion, which is funded by the US and NATO. In the photographs, they are holding NATO flags and a swastika at the same time.

    They use the Nazi emblem from the SS. Everywhere in the Ukrainian army you can see this emblem of their cult. Even female soldiers wear this black badge of their cult.

    The White House pretends that it doesn’t matter that it’s only a small number of troops, but that’s not true. Azov has carved its way into eastern Ukraine through assassinations. We don’t want to admit it.

    That is why Crimea voted for independence, why Crimea wanted to be with Russia. The Western media and the West do not want to admit the reality that Western Ukraine supports the Nazis. There was the headquarters of the Nazis SS, – said the journalist.

  5. UkieExterminator

    May 15, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    Demands ceasefire. A side winning wouldn’t demand such. Good work Russia on killing Ukies.

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