By Paul Goble
Despite the panic and hysteria in the media, Aleksandr Golts and Pavel Zolotaryev say, the Russian and American military commands in Syria continue to cooperate to ensure that any attack by one side against Syrian targets will not lead to the loss of life by soldiers of the other country.
Their judgment came in a Current Time television program today hosted by Timur Olevsky (currenttime.tv/a/29159844.html).
Zolotaryev, deputy director of the Moscow Institute of the USA and Canada and a retired major general, says that “American military personnel who constantly coordinate their actions with the Russians just as the Russians do with the Americans on the territory of Syria have taken all measures” so that any American strike will not inflict casualties among Russians.”
Only if the Russian forces confirm that there are no Russian soldiers present at a place the Americans intend to attack will the US forces go ahead, Zolotaryev says. And conversely, only if American forces confirm that there are no US soldiers present at a place the Russians intend to attack will Russian forces go ahead.
The level of cooperation between the two militaries is sufficiently developed because “both sides understand” the importance of doing so given the risks, he continues. Consequently, “here there is no basis for excessive agitation or panic.” But if that were violated at some point, it could mean war.
Golts observes that “if there were an exchange of strikes, this would already be a war.” Olevsky suggested that “all normal people” do not want a war, to which the military observer responds “I very much would like that to be the case” and that any new American action would be as some have been in the past, a demonstration of US power rather than something more.
But a real danger could arise if the Americans seek to destroy the anti-aircraft installations in Syria. “I have no certainty,” he says, “that in such a massive strike, they would distinguish between Russian anti-aircraft installations and Syrian ones.”
Zolotaryev, however, says that the Americans know exactly whose is which and therefore that problem won’t arise because the Russian commanders know that the Americans know and wouldn’t mislead them to create a conflict. If a Russian installation were attacked, Russian forces would respond by attacking the place from which the US attack was launched.
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