Policy: National Security

Ukraine defense minister ignores repeated phone calls from Chuck Hagel

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Secretary of Defense,National Security,Chuck Hagel,Ukraine

Ukraine Defense Minister Pavel Lebedev has refused to take multiple phone calls made personally by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon said Thursday.

"Secretary Hagel has been trying, himself, since early this week," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters. Lebedev refuses "to communicate, to accept a phone call" from Hagel or the Pentagon.

"We haven't been able to connect with anybody from the Defense Ministry there in Ukraine," he said. "We've been trying pretty diligently here in the Pentagon, we've been trying pretty diligently this whole week. I'd say it's pretty unusual."

Perhaps Hagel's team thinks that publicizing the fact that Lebedev is stiff-arming him — Kirby announced at the top of the briefing that Hagel couldn't reach his counterpart — will put public pressure on the Ukrainians to take his phone call.

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