Joseph Dunford, the U.S. military’s top officer, will meet with his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, in Helsinki on June 8 as part of talks designed to prevent regional conflicts from escalating, the Finnish military said.
The U.S. and Russian militaries did not immediately comment on the reported meeting of Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gerasimov, the chief of Russia’s military general staff.
Researcher Matti Pesu of the Finnish Foreign Policy Institute told Finnish news agency STT that the talks are aimed at preventing an escalation of situations and misunderstandings in conflicts in countries including Syria and Ukraine.
"In such tense situations, these [meetings] are important because both parties want to avoid worsening the situation. You want to increase transparency and keep the tensions from rising.
"It helps when you sit down and talk face-to-face," Pesu said.
In April, Gerasimov met with NATO Supreme Allied Commander Curtis Scaparrotti in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.
Relations between Moscow and Washington and their militaries were severely damaged in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and its aid for separatists in eastern Ukraine.