The US and Russia had high level military talks last week in order to agree over a plan of joint action over Syria, which may include both countries supporting a postwar government that will leave some of Syria’s current political elite in power.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter spoke on the phone with his Russian counterparts, to discus how to avoid potential clashes between US and Russian forces stationed within Syria.
The US and Russian officials “agreed to further discuss mechanisms for deconfliction in Syria and the counter-ISIL campaign,” said US Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook.
The military talks have been accompanied by renewed political and diplomatic meetings between the two powers, the latest in a series of meetings aimed at forging a deal over Syria in recent months.
“The Obama administration reached out to Moscow on Friday to try to coordinate actions in the war zone and avoid an accidental escalation,” theNew York Times reported on Friday.
“The president believes that a mil-to-mil conversation is an important next step. It will help to define some of the different options that are available to us,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in remarks Friday from London.
The past week also saw meetings between top US and Russian diplomatic personnel, including the US Ambassador in Moscow and ranking Russian diplomats.
The flurry of talks points to the existence of real concerns on both sides about a possible outbreak of direct fighting between US and Russian forces, the latter of which now include sizable troops of infantry, tanks, and combat aircraft. The situation on the ground is becoming ever more explosive, as Russia moves increasingly substantial forces and military hardware into naval and air bases in western Syria.
Beyond the issues of military coordination, the talks indicate a new readiness on the part of Washington to accept a political settlement that would leave Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in power, at least temporarily.