US and Russian military officials meet amid concerns over counterterrorism

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The senior Pentagon officer met his Russian counterpart in the Finnish capital on Wednesday amid U.S. and Allied efforts to find ways to combat terrorism after U.S. and Allied troops left Afghanistan last month.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley met with Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov here, officials said. US military officials declined to provide details of the meeting except to issue a brief statement saying the two discussed “risk reduction and operational de-conflict.”

The United States and Russia have in the past discussed ways to avoid conflict in Syria, where both countries maintain troops, and in the Black Sea, where both armies conduct naval patrols. The two sides also discussed Moscow’s incursion into Crimea and its regrouping of forces along Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders.

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But General Milley, on tour across Europe this week, focused on terrorism and countering violent extremism in the region. He met with NATO defense chiefs in Athens before meeting with a select group of his counterparts in Berlin on Monday. On Tuesday, he was in London to meet with the military leaders of the so-called Five Eyes nations, including Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

The meeting with General Gerasimov comes a few weeks after the tumultuous end of the 20-year American presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly regaining power and the United States limited in its ability to control terrorism emanating from within the country.

President Biden said the United States will remain vigilant to ensure militant groups like Al Qaeda or the Afghan branch of Islamic State do not reconstitute themselves to the point of threatening Americans at home or abroad. . Mr Biden, along with senior military officials like General Milley, said the United States can monitor the situation on the ground and carry out airstrikes if necessary to keep militant groups at bay.

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But this so-called “on the horizon” capability means that drones or manned planes must fly hundreds of kilometers from bases in the Gulf region, depriving the US military of adequate coverage of landlocked Afghanistan. When Mr Biden announced his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in April, US officials said they hoped to establish a nearby presence in Central Asia, possibly Uzbekistan, to help conduct counterterrorism operations from of the.

So far, however, the Russian government has been unwilling to support the American business. Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected Biden’s demands for such a base at a summit in Geneva in June.

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The UK is expected to call on China and Russia on Wednesday to agree to an international plan to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for militants, according to a statement by UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss to the General Assembly of United Nations in New York.

The Helsinki Meeting of People. Milley and Gerasimov were the second time the two had met in person, having previously met in December 2019 in Switzerland. The two have had several conversations since General Milley took office in September 2019.

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