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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.

"We see that as useful, regardless of the state of our relationship with Russia. It is always useful to talk mil-to-mil. It avoids miscalculation; it promotes transparency when we have forces operating in close proximity to each other, as we do in Syria."

The Russian Defense Ministry said, in a statement, that Gerasimov and Dunford

"exchanged their views on the condition of the Russia-America relationship, assessments of situations in the field of international security in Europe, Middle East, North Africa and other key regions of the world."


"The parties defined directions of joint work aimed to raise the safety level of military activities, and decrease tensions and risks of incidents."

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.