Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (Susan Walsh / AP)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says Russia’s defense chief has assured Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russia will not invade Ukraine.
Hagel spoke by phone Monday with his Russian counterpart, and afterward Hagel’s press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, issued a statement saying the two men had discussed the crisis in Ukraine.
Kirby said Hagel requested clarification of Russia’s intentions in eastern Ukraine, and the Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoygu (sayr-gay shoy-goo), reassured Hagel that Russian forces will not invade.
Hagel also asked for Russia’s help in gaining the release of seven inspectors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who are being held in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists. And Hagel called for an end to what he called Russia’s destabilizing influence inside Ukraine.