The memorandum between the United States and Russia was signed on October 20, 2015. The text of the memorandum has never been released. An inside source in the Navy told us the details.
The memorandum includes specific safety protocols for aircraft crews to follow, namely those that stipulate the professional behavior of pilots, use of specific communication frequencies, and creation of lines of communication on the ground.
Due to popular belief, the memorandum does not impose a zone of cooperation, the exchange of intelligence information, or the exchange of information about targets in Syria. The fact is however; the memorandum does just the opposite.
The document regulates all aircraft and drone operations in Syrian airspace and is aimed at ensuring the safety of flights. The channels also stands as a round-the-clock operational communication between Russian and United States’ military officials.
On Thursday, beginning around 7:45 p.m., in the span of just 30 minutes, the U.S. military launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria from two Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea. An hour later, the missiles hit their targets at the Shayrat Air Base in Homs Province, where U.S. officials say President Bashar al-Assad’s regime deployed planes that carried out a chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people earlier this week.
Before the attack, due to the memorandum, the United States warned Russia they were attacking that base. The Russian forces fell back, and let the attack happened. Russia had submarine-launched anti-air ballistic missiles off the coast capable of intercepting the attack, however not a single one was launched.
Russian and US military experts held regular teleconferences on the implementation of the memorandum. The first videoconference took place on January 28, 2016. During the teleconferences, the parties exchanged their assessments of the implementation of the memorandum and analyzed activities of both sides to settle potential conflict situations. The parties to the agreement also acknowledged that no significant incidents had occurred, something that could be attributed to the actions taken by Russian Aerospace Forces and the Air Force of the US-led coalition in Syria.
Commenting on the outcomes of the teleconferences, both Russia and the United States had noted the effectiveness and reliability of existing channels of communication and confirmed their readiness to continue contact.
In March 2017, representatives from Russia and the United States exchanged views on the creation of a new communication channel at the level of lieutenant generals.
On March 24, 2017, the Russia-US high-rank working group held another teleconference on the implementation of the memorandum.
Since the attack on the Syria, Russia has suspended the memorandum with the United States and set one of their warships, the Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494, on course to the USS Ross and USS Porter. What will happen next? Tune in to find out.