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Italy welcomes Austin-Shoigu phone talks

16 marzo 2023 | 11.12
LETTURA: 1 minuti

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Italy's foreign minister Antoni Tajani has hailed United States and Russia's military chiefs Lloyd Austin and Sergei Shoigu's phone talks on Wednesday after an incident in the Black Sea involving a US spy drone and a Russian fighter jet.

"The two ministers were right to talk to each other, to calm down the situation, because right now the last thing we need is an escalation," Tajani told the Porta a Porta talk show.

Austin, the US defence secretary, and his Russian counterpart Shoigu spoke on Wednesday after Tuesday's incident in which the US claims the Russian jet damaged an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper after clipping its propeller, forcing the US to ditch the drone in the sea.

"Luckily there is a minimal opening of dialogue and the possibility of an exchange of views between the Americans and Russians on Ukraine," said Tajani.

"It is essential that any channel of communication is maintained," Tajani added.

Military forces deployed along Nato and the European Union's borders must avoid any confrontation with Russia, Tajani underlined.

"It doesn't take much for an incident to occur: human error, an unexpected reaction by a pilot. Everyone at the front line must have nerves of steel," Tajani said.

Austin and Shoigu's first call since October came amid international alarm after Tuesday's drone incident brought the US and Russia the closest they have come to direct conflict since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year.

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