Senior US military general speaks with his Russian counterpart | News on border disputes
General Mark Milley meets Russian General Valery Gerasimov in Finland for six hours amid the American push to bases in Central Asia.
The highest military leader in the United States, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, met his Russian counterpart, Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov, on Wednesday in Helsinki.
The reunion of the two military leaders comes after the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan has sparked a new humanitarian crisis in Central Asia and as Washington seeks to coordinate with neighboring powers to counter armed groups.
“It was a productive meeting. When the military leaders of the great powers communicate, the world is a safer place, ”Milley told The Associated Press.
The two sides agreed not to disclose details of the meeting, as has been the practice in previous meetings and appeals, the AP reported. But the issue of the US base around Afghanistan was a key topic for Milley along with his NATO counterparts in Greece this weekend.
Russia and the United States have engaged in a strategic stability dialogue following the Geneva summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June. But the rapid withdrawal of the United States and NATO from Afghanistan and the sudden rise of the Taliban government in Kabul have raised new security concerns.
Gerasimov and Milley, meeting at a residence near Helsinki, discussed issues of mutual interest, including risk mitigation in military activities, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian news service.
The Russian Defense Ministry said “the meeting was constructive,” RIA reported.
Milley and Gerasimov had met before in 2019 and had several phone calls. Russia and the United States have had deconflictive talks in the past over military operations in the Black Sea, Syria and Ukraine.
U.S. officials fear that Al Qaeda and ISIL affiliates could quickly reconstitute themselves in Afghanistan and pose threats to Western interests in neighboring countries and potentially the American homeland.
The United States has called for basic agreements, overflight rights and increased intelligence sharing with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, but has faced opposition from Russia. Pakistan has refused to allow flights of US spy planes or drones over its territory.
The United States can travel to Afghanistan from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where the US military has approximately 10,000 troops. Al Udeid served as a hub for the emergency evacuation of US and Afghan citizens from Kabul last month.
But distances from bases in the Gulf region often necessitate expensive aerial refueling and leave pilots little time over Afghanistan. The US military admitted last week that an Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul intended to defend US troops at the airport mistakenly killed 10 civilians.
The United States had used a base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, to move American troops in and out of Afghanistan for much of the war. But under pressure from Russia, Kyrgyzstan insisted that the United States leave the base in 2014.
The United States had leased an air base in Karshi-Khanabad, known as K2, in Uzbekistan after the war in Afghanistan broke out, but Uzbekistan ordered its closure in 2005 amid tensions with Washington.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in July – as the US withdrawal from Afghanistan continued – that any deployment of US troops in neighboring countries would be “unacceptable”.
Russia has told the United States “in a straightforward and straightforward manner that it will change a lot not only in our perception of what is happening in this important region, but also in our relations with the United States,” Ryabkov said. .
Ryabkov also said that Russia had had a “frank conversation” with the countries of Central Asia to warn them not to allow US troops inside their borders.