Milley calls for expanded communication between US, Russian militaries

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine General Mark Milley leaves a closed-door briefing with members of the House regarding the situation in Afghanistan and the evacuation effort on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.
Greg Nash

U.S. and Russian forces should increase their communication to help prevent a possible future conflict between Washington and Moscow, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

“It’s important to have an effective means of military-to-military communications in order to clearly understand each other’s positions on very difficult issues and to develop a relationship where we are candid and professional, which in times of crisis can become a very important means in order to de-escalate any kind of crisis situation,” Milley told reporters traveling with him after he met his Russian counterpart in Finland last week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Milley — who has recently been embroiled in a political firestorm over a report he assured his Chinese counterpart that he would warn him of any U.S. attack following former President Trump’s election loss — said adding to already established lines of communication would help each side better understand the other’s moves. 

Currently, only senior military leaders such as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Milley and the supreme allied commander for Europe can reach out to the Russian military, Milley said, according to The Associated Press.

But should the U.S. government allow its military service chiefs to speak with their Russian counterparts — something that is currently not allowed — the U.S. defense officials could contact Moscow’s generals to avoid conflict wherever there are tensions. 

“We need to put in place policies and procedures to make sure that we increase certainty, to reduce uncertainty, increase trust to reduce distrust, increase stability to reduce instability in order to avoid miscalculation and reduce the possibility of great power war,” Milley said. “That’s a fundamental thing that we should try to do, and I am going to try to do it.” 

Milley’s comments come after he traveled across Europe last week and met with Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov for six hours in Helsinki, the second in-person meeting between the two.

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met at a summit in Geneva in June and agreed to restart stability talks, the first round of which was held in July. A second round is planned for this week.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Lloyd Austin Mark Milley Russia Vladimir Putin

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