Despite tensions reaching a fever pitch, ties between NATO and Russia appear open as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held his second phone conversation with the United States in three days. On Sunday, Shaigu spoke with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a flurry of phone calls with three other NATO defense ministers.

Phone calls over the weekend show a shift in communication between Russia and NATO, as Shaigu and Shaigu held their first conversation in Austin since May on Friday.

While Moscow has not released any details of the phone call, notes from other phone calls show that the Russian defense minister warned that the situation in Ukraine was deteriorating.

The Ministry of Defense of Russia discussed Shaigu’s conversation with French Defense Minister Sebastien Lekornia, during which they “discussed the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ukraine.”

The Russian minister warned that the situation “tends to further uncontrollably escalate.”

The warning came after Shaigu had a phone conversation with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, in which he said Moscow was “concerned about possible provocations by Kiev using a dirty bomb.”

The comment sparked widespread reaction from Ukraine and its allies, as the United States said it “rejects any pretext for Russian escalation” as it rejects Russia’s unsubstantiated claims.

In response to the comment, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said that Russia is “the source of everything dirty that can be imagined in this war.”

Mr. Wallace denied Shaygu’s accusations that “Ukraine planned actions with the help of Western countries, including Great Britain, to escalate the conflict in Ukraine.”

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According to the US Institute for the Study of War, it is highly likely that the Russian defense minister “most likely sought to slow or suspend Western military aid to Ukraine and possibly weaken the NATO alliance in intimidating calls.”

The Pentagon released a read of Austin’s phone conversation with Shaigu and revealed that Austin “reaffirmed the value of continued communication.”

Despite regular communications over the weekend, it is not yet known whether the many discussions have yielded positive results.

However, the continuation of open dialogue while tensions are at an all-time high shows that both sides are making a conscious effort to maintain communication.