The US government plans to set up a communication backchannel with Russian armed forces to prevent an accidental clash between troops deployed along the Ukrainian border, sources told NBC News.
The information was shared with the public a few days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “military operation” in Ukraine, which has reportedly killed hundreds of soldiers and injured thousands of civilians.
According to the report, the hotline would allow military officials to exchange information to ensure Russian soldiers fighting Ukrainian forces will not cross paths with American troops operating in neighboring countries.
The sources said that the hotline would lessen the risk of miscalculated missile strikes and ensure that Russian and US aircraft and warships are operating in different areas.
The channel would connect top US military officer Gen. Mark Milley and Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov. NATO supreme allied commander Gen. Tod Wolters and another top Russian officer could also be involved.
Several US officials expressed reservations concerning the setup of a military channel between the US Army and its Russian counterpart, saying that the move could be seen as acceptance of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The sources also claimed that while the US government can employ various “deconfliction channels” with Russia, none of them completely eradicates the risk to US soldiers operating in the region.
Furthermore, it remains unclear if Putin’s government will agree to the proposal.
This is not the first discussion about setting up a communication backchannel between the US and Russia. In 2015, the two nations set up a hotline to prevent collisions or accidental targeting of the other’s forces during the Syrian conflict.