Mattis: No post-Helsinki progress on cooperation with Russia in Syria

by WorldTribune Staff, July 25, 2018

The Helsinki summit did not change the U.S. military’s stance on cooperation with Russia in Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on July 24.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

“What we do with the Russian Federation, we deconflict our operations. We do not coordinate them, we deconflict them . . . to make certain along the deconfliction lines we are not creating hazardous conditions,” Mattis said at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed broad plans for increased cooperation on international security matters during their meeting in Helsinki and the Russian Defense Ministry said after the summit that it is ready to step up cooperation with the U.S. military in Syria.

Mattis, however, said the Defense Department will not be doing anything different in Syria until Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “have further figured out at what point we’re going to start working alongside our allies with Russia in the future. That has not happened yet and it would be premature for me to go into any more detail at this point.”

Current U.S. law prohibits the Pentagon from coordinating with the Russian military.

Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said that Congress would have to make legislative changes before the U.S. military could fully work with Russian forces.

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