Russia and US Signed Memorandum on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in Syria
Russian and US Defence Ministries signed Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in the Syrian Arab Republic
This document is of considerable practical importance. It regulates operations of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles in the air space over Syria. The Memorandum contains a range of rules and restrictions aimed at preventing incidents between the military aircraft of Russia and the United States.
Upon its entry into force, this agreement will ensure establishing lines of 24-hour operational communication between the military headquarters of Russia and the United States and mechanisms of interaction, including provision of mutual assistance in case of emergency. The US side has undertaken to inform all other members of the Counter-ISIL Coalition led by the United States of the agreed rules and the Coalition members’ aircrews will adhere to these arrangements.
To facilitate activities identified in the Memorandum and solve any problem arising from its implementation special military representatives will be appointed by both sides.
It is necessary to emphasize that the MOU signed is purely of military-technical nature. Surely, the Russian side was seeking agreement that is more substantial. That is why a number of specific proposals aimed at deepening military cooperation between Russian and US militaries in countering international terrorism was put forward. For example, the American counterparts were requested to provide specific infomation concerning IS targets in Syria. Russian MoD was ready after necessary crosschecking to launch air strikes against them. However, the response from Washington was negative.
Russian negotiators also insisted on closer interaction in situations of aircraft shootdown or emergency landing. Joint aircrews’ search and rescue operations were proposed. The idea was not supported either.
Russian Defence Ministry had some more initiatives.
The last but not the least. The signing of the document in no way changes the Russian position of principle, whose military forces in Syria are operating at the request of legitimate authorities of that country. While projection of force of the United States and the Counter-ISIL coalition led by Washington on the territory of Syria without the consent of Damascus and in the absence of relevant UN Security Council resolution represents negligence of the international law.