U.S., Russian Defense Chiefs Meet In Baku
Feb. 16, 2017 (EIRNS)—The U.S. and Russian military chiefs met today for the first time since January of 2014, in Baku, Azerbaijan. For U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, it was his first face-to-face meeting with his Russian counterpart, Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, since Dunford has been in office—though the two men have spoken a number of times by phone. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the Joint Staff’s director of strategic plans and policy, said that today’s meeting was not part of an effort to return U.S.-Russian military relations to the "pre-Crimea" status. Rather, McKenzie told DoD News, the meeting is a chance to ensure the lines of communication between the two militaries remain open. McKenzie reported that the two generals did not discuss policy or political issues. The meeting, which Dunford had been seeking for months, was held to establish the link between the men "so they see each other and have an opportunity to size each other up. It’s very hard to do that over a telephone," McKenzie said.
"The importance of this is the military-to-military communications channel between the [chiefs of staff] is a useful thing to have," McKenzie said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said, in a statement, that Gerasimov and Dunford
Earlier in the day Dunford was received by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and then held a separate meeting with the Azerbaijani Defence Minister, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov, and the Chief of the Azerbaijani General Staff, Colonel-General Najmeddin Sadikov.