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Ukrainian Military Change of Heart: Ready to Take Hagel Calls

WASHINGTON – After snubbing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for nearly a week, Ukraine’s defense minister indicated Friday he’s ready to talk to Hagel by phone.

Pentagon officials reported Thursday that Hagel’s repeated attempts to call his counterpart in Kiev this week were totally ignored. Ukrainian officials refused to even answer the phone.

But in a phone call Friday, Ukraine’s military chief of staff, Adm. Yuri Ilyin told NATO’s Supreme Commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Phillip Breedlove that Defense Minister Pablo Lebedev would like to speak with Hagel sometime today.

Concerned over the violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrators by Ukraine police and security forces, President Barack Obama had warned if Ukrainian military forces were used in the crackdown it would have serious consequences on the U.S.-Ukrainian military relationship.

As of now, U.S. officials report that Ukraine’s military forces had been deployed only to protect military and weapons installations and had not been ordered to move against civilian demonstrators.