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Russia Is Seeking More Than Just a Deconfliction Agreement

Oct. 21, 2015 (EIRNS)—While Russian officials hailed the memorandum of understanding covering U.S. and Russian military operations in Syria as soon as it was announced by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, yesterday, the Russians have also made clear that they were seeking more than just protocols for unexpected incidents in the air. Cook repeatedly said, during his press briefing at the Pentagon yesterday, that the US is refusing any further military cooperation with Russia in Syria as long as Russia remains committed to what Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has characterized as a "misguided" strategy.

The Russian Defense Ministry, in its statement issued immediately after Cook’s briefing, reported that it had requested an "agreement that is more substantial" than what the United States agreed to. "That is why a number of specific proposals aimed at deepening military cooperation between Russian and US militaries in countering international terrorism was put forward," it said.

"For example, the American counterparts were requested to provide specific information concerning [Islamic State] targets in Syria. Russian MoD was ready after necessary crosschecking to launch air strikes against them. However, the response from Washington was negative,"

the statement said.

"Russian negotiators also insisted on closer interaction in situations of aircraft shootdown or emergency landing. Joint aircrews’ search and rescue operations were proposed. The idea was not supported either."

The matter of cooperation in search and rescue operations for downed pilots does not seem to be ruled out entirely, however. US Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told Sputnik that should such a situation arise, the lines of communication provided for in the MOU can be used.

"We have not developed a new agreement with Russia regarding Search and Rescue," she said.

"In the case of a downed pilot or aircraft in distress, both sides should contact each other via the newly established channel. Further action will be determined at the time of incident."