by Mark Linnhoefer
After a round of talks on Wednesday, Washington and Moscow are now finalizing a memorandum that will lay out basic air safety procedures for both Russian and American pilots and commanders so as to avoid accidental confrontation.
Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war has caused some grief amongst Western nations as Moscow is supporting Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. The United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter perceives this to be a “misguided strategy” and that the U.S. has therefore not and is not going “to cooperate with Russia.” The American strategy of airstrikes and drone attacks will remain unchanged, hence the memorandum of understanding.
The memorandum’s exact contents are still shrouded in secrecy, but, according to a report from Reuters, a U.S. official could be quoted as saying that its implementation may be imminent. Known contents of the first round of talks on October 1st include a secure distance between Russian and American aircrafts and a shared radio frequency for emergency calls.
The secure distance between the aircrafts has been a particular issue of late, with the Pentagon reporting multiple incidents in which Russian jets have flown out of their patrol routes and come so close to their American counterparts that a visual identification was possible. Moscow dismisses these claims by saying that although the Russian aircraft did come as close as suggested, it only did so for identification purposes and “not to scare it” according to the Russian defense ministry.
Carter has made some derogative comments about the Russian behavior, deeming it to be “unprofessional.”
An invitation for deeper strategic talks about the Syria issue in Moscow has been declined by the US, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.