Russia & US army officials discuss safety measures for Syria flights – Russian MoD

A Russian Su-30 fighter aircraft takes off from the Hmeimim airbase in Syria. © Maksim Blinov
US and Russian defense officials have discussed additional flight safety measures in Syria during a video conference, the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service told Russian media.

A video conference between top US and Russian defense officials was held at “the US’s initiative” and was focused on the “implementation of the October 2015 … flight safety memorandum,” a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service says, as cited by TASS.

Russia and the US exchanged opinions concerning flight safety incidents that took place after the previous video conference that took place on September 22, and discussed additional measures aimed at improving mutual flight safety of the Russian Air Force and the US-led coalition in Syrian airspace, it added.

On October 28, Russian and US jets were involved in a “near miss” incident in Syria. Following the incident, the US officials complained that similar situations happen almost “weekly.”

The mutual flight safety memorandum agreed by the US and Russia on October 20, 2015, regulates the flight paths and contacts of the countries’ air forces in Syria during an emergency situation. The two countries also set up a hotline for their militaries to discuss the approximate locations and missions of planes in an attempt to avoid operating in the same airspace at the same time.

Communication between the militaries has continued, despite the US suspending diplomatic talks with Russia about Syria at the beginning of October 2016.

Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force has not conducted combat missions in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo for more than 15 days to facilitate humanitarian access to the city. On October 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin turned down the General Staff’s request to order a resumption of airstrikes in eastern Aleppo.