Top NATO, Russia commanders meet in Azerbaijan, agree to keep communication lines open

NATO’s top European commander, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, and Russia’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov, met in the Azeri capital Baku on Thursday. According to brief statements released by the two sides, the military officials discussed ways to boost transparency and reduce tension, amid an increased number of military exercises being conducted by NATO in Europe.

The meeting took place against the background of high tension between Moscow and Washington over the situation in Syria and the US-led attack on Syrian government sites. The attacks were in response to an incident which the US and its allies called a chemical attack by Damascus and which Russia considers a fabrication by pro-rebel propaganda groups.