The US reportedly seeks to create a joint HQ with Russia to share intelligence and conduct “synchronized” strikes on Islamists in Syria. The plan, if approved, would see unusually deep military-to-military ties for the two nations amid uneasy relations.
The draft proposal was obtained by the Washington Post and published ahead of a planned meeting between US State Secretary John Kerry with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. Judging by the leaked content, the proposal goes far beyond recent agreements between the US and Russia on flight safety during two countries’ air operations over Syria.
If included in the Lavrov-Kerry agenda on Thursday, the plan may oddly contrast with the recently-proclaimed “deterrence” policy towards Russia. At a NATO summit in Warsaw last week, the US-led bloc agreed to counter a “resurgent Russia” by deploying troops and combat vehicles in Eastern Europe.
In the Mediterranean Sea, the US until recently maintained two carrier strike groups, including the USS Dwight Eisenhower and USS Harry Truman with their escort ships to “send a message” to the Russian Navy, which is there to support anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) efforts by Russia’s Air Force and the Syrian military.
The leaked proposal describes a unified command-and-control structure, called the Joint Implementation Group (JIC), to be installed outside the Jordanian capital, Amman.
“Subject matter experts and professionals with expertise in intelligence, targeting and air operations” would be among the JIC staff, with a Russian and an American colonels “or civilian employees of equivalent ranks” acting as senior officers on either side.
The initial objective of JIC operation, the paper goes on, is “to maximize independent, but synchronized, efforts” against IS and Al-Nusra Front terrorists in Syria. If everything goes as planned, Russian and US militaries may “permit integrated operations” that include assisting each other in air raids, according to the Washington Post.