Executive Intelligence Review


U.S.-Russia Military-to-Military Contacts Intensify

March 22, 2018 (EIRNS)—The Hill reported yesterday that U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford had just spoken with Russian Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, about Syria. As is usual in these discussions, no details were disclosed. Dunford had last spoken to Gerasimov on March 13, eight days earlier.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement yesterday that General Gerasimov had also spoken on the phone with U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO Supreme Allied Commander-Europe. The two generals “exchanged their views on topical issues of international security,” and Gerasimov agreed with Scaparrotti on a proposal for the two to meet.

Barack Obama had shut down all military-to-military contacts with Russia in 2014, but the Trump Administration has opened them up again. There are reports that Dunford and Gerasimov have spoken by telephone at least monthly. They have met at least twice: once in Baku on Feb. 16, 2017, which was the first such meeting since January 2014, and then again in Antalya, Turkey, on March 6, 2017.

Associated Press reported last September that unnamed U.S. and Russian generals had met in Syria around Sept. 21, 2017, and shared maps, graphics and information about where their forces were fighting around Deir Ezzor. Additionally, the military “hotlines” which link U.S. and Russian headquarters for Syria, are frequently active, sometimes for many hours or even a day at a stretch during dangerous periods.

As these examples make clear, the reason for all these contacts is not so much that the U.S. and Russia agree with each other, but that they agree to manage their differences.