Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held calls with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts Friday — the first such exchange since May. Details of the call between Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu were closely guarded. According to Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, Austin “emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing conflict.” Russia’s Defense Ministry said the two officials discussed “relevant aspects of international security, including the situation in Ukraine.” The last time Shoigu and Austin spoke was in May.
Austin also spoke with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and reiterated the United States’ unwavering commitment to “supporting Ukraine’s ability to counter Russia’s aggression,” according to Ryder.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of mining the dam at a major hydroelectric power station near the Russian-occupied city of Kherson in preparation for a “false flag attack,” which he said could lead to widespread flooding and destroy the water supply in much of the south of the country. A member of the president’s team pledged that Ukraine would “hit back even harder” if such an attack took place.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
4. From our correspondents
Ukraine urges citizens to turn off appliances, save power after airstrikes. As Ukraine braced for severe power shortages following an extensive bombing campaign by Russia of civilian infrastructure, the governor of Kyiv urged residents of the capital region to save power, writes David L. Stern. The governor called on people to shut off electrical appliances including electric heaters, refrigerators and WiFi routers between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The warnings of potential rolling blackouts, and the pleas for a nationwide conservation effort, including from Zelensky, highlighted how Russia’s merciless airstrike campaign is forcing Ukrainians, already worn down by eight months of invasion and war, to sacrifice even more.