US, Russian military chiefs meet in Finnish capital

The Nation  |  Sep 22, 2021

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, met Wednesday in Helsinki to continue recent talks after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.

Milley did not provide details of the meeting to the reporters but Joint Staff spokesman Col. Dave Butler said the meeting was a new talk between the military leadership of both countries aimed at improving communication to reduce risk and prevent operational conflict.

Butler said the two sides agreed not to disclose details of the talks.

It was reported that after the US withdrew troops, Washington is working to reach agreements that allow for the tracking of Daesh/ISIS and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, sharing intelligence and airstrikes if necessary, and establishing bases in countries bordering Afghanistan such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan.

Milley said previously during his European tour that the base issue was the most important thing on his mind.

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He also announced that American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and intelligence officials warned that al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS could pose a threat to the US within a year or two.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in July that Moscow warned the US that it would "not be acceptable" to deploy troops to countries neighboring Afghanistan, adding a similar warning was made to Central Asian countries.

There has been no progress in those talks, which are conducted at the military level between Russia and the US.

Some Russian officials, however, express that they are concerned that the Taliban administration in Afghanistan may destabilize Central Asia.

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