A newly brokered U.S. ceasefire with Russia in Syria violates 2014 U.S. legislation banning any military cooperation between the two countries.
Provisions within the legislation allow the Secretary of Defense to waive prohibitions on certain instances of cooperation in the interest of national security. Reflecting deep reservations within the broader U.S. national security community, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is reportedly highly skeptical of the Syria deal.
Congress authorized the ban on military cooperation after Russia’s illegal 2014 annexation of Crimea. The U.S. and EU jointly imposed sanctions on Russia, both for its annexation of Crimea and its surreptitious invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s agreement stipulates that all parties in Syria must participate a “genuine reduction of violence,” for a period of one week. If the ceasefire holds for a week, then the U.S. will open a joint operations center with Russia meant to target the Islamic State and al-Qaida elements in Syria.
Since the beginning of Russian intervention in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought U.S.-Russian intelligence sharing and coordinated strikes to legitimize his intervention. Russia repeatedly designates any force opposing Assad as “terrorist,” and in one case repeatedly bombed U.S.-backed rebels despite requests from Washington to implement ceasefire.
Kerry and President Barack Obama’s ceasefire deal has met widespread condemnation throughout the U.S. government. “It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it,” commander of U.S. Air Operations in the Middle East Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian told reporters Tuesday.
The Pentagon is is also increasingly wary that sharing information with Russia will reveal how the U.S. collects valuable intelligence, which Russia could use to its advantage in a future confrontation with the U.S. Russia consistently undermines the U.S. intelligence community, and is suspected of widespread penetration attempts inside the U.S. government.
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