Russian, US defence chiefs discuss Ukraine according to reports

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday there had been an unprecedented increase in US NATO military activity near Russia's borders during the standoff over Ukraine and urged US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to help "turn down the rhetoric", Russian news agencies reported.

The agencies said Mr Shoigu told Mr Hagel by telephone that Russia is open to contacts with all sides to seek to reduce tension.

He also said Russian forces that had been conducting urgent drills near the Ukrainian border last week - a move that was criticised by the West - had returned to their permanent positions, without giving details, according to the reports.

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