WASHINGTON, August 10 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Defense Ministry and the Pentagon plan to expand the range of arms and services participating in joint exercises, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said after “two-plus-two” format talks involving the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers.
“We would like our practical part to be more dynamic and have wider boundaries. I mean the joint exercises. So far we have been holding them only to train amphibious and naval forces. In the future we would like to have them more often and to involve other arms and services,” Shoigu said.
He believes that cooperation by Russian and US defense ministries has changed for the better. Asked about the level of confidence in relations with his US counterpart, Chuck Hagel, Shoigu said: “This is my first meeting with my counterpart. So far we have only talked on the telephone. I have felt no changes in approaches to military cooperation. Moreover, we discussed a number of new guidelines for our interaction.”
The Russian Defense Ministry and the Pentagon have agreed to step up contacts at the level of deputy ministers - Antonov and Miller, to have regular video conferences and to try to make the plan for cooperation by the two defense ministries for 2014 tighter.
“If there have been some changes, all of these were for the better. We see no threats. I felt neither fears regarding our further dialogues nor any cooling in military cooperation,” Shoigu said.
The withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan due in 2014 was another issue Shoigu discussed with Hagel.
“I briefed my counterpart on the concerns and expectations Afghanistan’s neighbors - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have at the moment - not very positive ones, and also on the measures they are going to take.”
Shoigu and Hagel discussed Syria. The Russian foreign minister believes “time is ripe to pay attention to internal migration in Syria, to the movement of people inside the country.”
“There are some freed territories. People are returning there. They are returning to their ruined homes. There are no life support infrastructures, medical care or food supply and unexploded shells and mines are frequent,” he said.