Hagel, Russian defense chief differed on Ukraine

Chuck Hagel

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s phone conversation with his Russian counterpart about Russia’s role in the violence in eastern Ukraine was at times “terse” but “never uncivil.”

Hagel’s spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, told reporters Tuesday that Hagel expressed concern about Russian-influenced “irregular” military troops operating in eastern Ukraine. And he said Hagel believes those irregulars are — at the very least — influenced by Moscow.

Kirby said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed a “different view,” but Kirby did not elaborate.

Hagel also was assured, twice during the conversation Monday, that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine, Kirby said.

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