Pentagon Chief Says He Spoke With Russia Over Drone Incident

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III had a rare phone call with his Russian counterpart in the aftermath of a collision between a Russian warplane and an American spy drone, as senior Pentagon leaders tried to move swiftly to prevent the incident from increasing tensions between the two superpowers.

Mr. Austin said he called Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, on Wednesday to clear the air. He declined to say whether Mr. Shoigu repeated his country’s denials that a Russian warplane swiped the American MQ-9 Reaper, causing it to crash into the Black Sea, but he said that just having a conversation was important given the events.

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