US, Russia set up military communication line to prevent accidental clash

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a damaged logistic center after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine
Associated Press/Efrem Lukatsky

The U.S. military has set up a channel to communicate directly with the Russian military to prevent “miscalculations” or “escalation” over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, a defense spokesperson confirmed to The Hill Thursday. 

“The Department of the Defense recently established a de-confliction line with the Russian Ministry of Defense on March 1 for the purposes of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation,” the spokesperson said.

They noted that the U.S. “retains a number of channels to discuss critical security issues with the Russians during a contingency or emergency.”

The deconfliction line was first reported by NBC News

CNN later reported that the line is basically an exchange of phone numbers, one from the U.S. European Command’s operations center in Stuttgart, Germany, and the other expected from the Ministry of Defense in Moscow. 

The United States and Russia are not in direct conflict with one another, but as U.S. forces continue to flow into several of Ukraine’s NATO neighbors, there are concerns of a possible close encounter or mishap that could lead to an escalation. 

Russian aircraft, for example, have flown close to areas where thousands of American troops are in Poland, Romania and Baltic countries. 

The new deconfliction line is of interest as Pentagon officials have previously said they have not had any direct communications with Russia since the invasion began eight days ago. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu on Feb. 18, while Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley last spoke to the Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov on Feb. 11, nearly a month ago.

Washington and Moscow for years have had a similar deconfliction line in Syria to notify each other of their operations. The two were in separate missions in the country and were not in conflict with each other. 

Tags Lloyd Austin Mark Milley Russia Ukraine Ukraine invasion

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