(TIME) Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel received “assurance” from his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoygu, on Monday that the Kremlin would not send troops amassed on its western border with Ukraine, where separatist forces have called for Moscow’s assistance.
“Minister Shoygu reiterated his assurance that Russian forces would not invade Ukraine,” read a statement by the Department of Defense. “Sec. Hagel emphasized how dangerous the situation remains and expressed his desire to find a responsible way forward.”
Hagel also appealed to Shoygu to help secure the release of seven observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held by separatist militants in eastern Ukraine.
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