By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is meeting with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki tomorrow to discuss operations in Syria and other matters.
It will be the third face-to-face meeting between Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and Gen. Valery Gerasimov of the Russian army, chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces.
“The two military leaders will discuss the deconfliction of coalition and Russian operations in Syria and exchange views on the state of U.S.-Russia military relations and the current international security situation in Europe and other key regions,” Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder said in a written statement announcing the meeting.
Dunford first met with Gerasimov Feb. 17, 2017, in Baku, Azerbaijan. The two met again a month later in Antalya, Turkey, in a meeting hosted by Turkish chief of defense Gen. Hulusi Akar. Both meetings were centered on deconfliction of Russian and coalition operations in Syria. The lines of communication must remain open, Joint Staff officials said at the time, to ensure mistakes and miscalculations do not happen.
The meeting in Finland does not portend increased military cooperation between the United States and Russia, Joint Staff officials said. Russian actions in Georgia – where it invaded and still occupies the provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- and its annexation of the Ukraine province of Crimea make any cooperation between the two countries impossible, officials said. Russia also has troops in Eastern Ukraine and continues to foment unrest in the country.
Russia deployed forces to Syria in September 2015 and succeeded in propping up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. They continue to operate there.
Earlier today, Dunford met with his Finnish counterpart, Gen. Jarmo Lindberg, to discuss mutual security interests.