Top US, Russian military brass to meet in Helsinki

Representatives of the Finnish defence forces will not participate in the meeting

Helsinki: Top US and Russian military officials are to meet in Helsinki on Friday as part of recurring talks to prevent conflicts such as Syria and Ukraine from escalating, Finnish officials said.


The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, will meet his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov, at an undisclosed location in the Finnish capital, the Finnish military announced on Thursday.

The talks are aimed at preventing an escalation of situations and misunderstandings, researcher Matti Pesu of the Finnish Foreign Policy Institute told Finnish news agency STT.

Direct clashes and accidents are for example a risk in Syria, where Washington and Moscow support opposing sides in the conflict.

“In such tense situations these (meetings) are important because both parties want to avoid worsening the situation. You want to increase transparency and keep the tensions from rising.

“It helps when you sit down and talk face-to-face,” Pesu said.

Representatives of the Finnish defence forces will not participate in the meeting.

Dunford’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

A special hotline for the US and Russian militaries to communicate about operations in Syria is being used by both sides, the Kremlin said in April.
The link is a regular phone line staffed on the US side by a Russian-speaking colonel. 

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