On April 19, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff and the NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe held a rare face-to-face meeting to try to ease the tensions between the two sides.
General Curtis Scaparrotti and General Valery Gerasimov met for the first time since 2013. The top generals met less than a week after the US, the UK and France carried out a massive missile strike on Syria. According to some experts, the relations between the sides are complicated as they had never been before after the collapse of the USSR.
Over the past few years, NATO [mostly the US] has deployed four multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states under a pretext of preventing a possible Russian intervention. The US military has also sent a Patriot missile defense battery to Lithuania for drills. Both sides accuse the other of risky deployments in the Baltic states and eastern Europe.
In separate statements, NATO and the Russian Defense Ministry said their top commanders had discussed military exercises and troop movements.
NATO said the Baku meeting “focused on issues related to military posture and exercises” and ways to avoid actions that could lead to war.
“General Scaparrotti and General Gerasimov agreed to continue using the military lines of communication in the future,” NATO underlined.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the pair also talked about the conflict in Syria, where the US and Russia back opposing sides. Moscow supports the internationally-recognized government of President Bashar al-Assad. Washington initially intervented the conflict providing support to radical Islamist militant groups, but then focused its efforts on backing Kurdish militias with strong separatist intensions.
General Gerasimov also met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev while Generak’s visit to Baku.
“Ilham Aliyev and Valery Gerasimov exchanged opinions on military-technical cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia and on prospects of further cooperation,” a statement from the Azerbaijani presidency said.
Aliyev voiced hope that this meeting would strengthen the international security, according to the Azerbaijani newspaper Apa.