Austin: Milley sought ‘clarification’ from Russian counterpart on offer for assistance

The Wall Avenue Journal reported Monday that Milley mentioned the Kremlin provide with Russian Chief of Basic Employees Valery Gerasimov when the pair met final week in Helsinki.

The dialog stemmed from a June summit between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva the place Putin floated internet hosting U.S. troops at Russian bases in Central Asia. In line with the report, Milley’s question was on the behest of the White Home Nationwide Safety Council workers, which needed the Joint Chiefs chair to make clear whether or not the provide was critical.

“This is an issue that I believe came up during a conversation that the president had with President Putin where President Putin offered … to provide assistance,” Austin stated.

The report was swiftly condemned by Republicans on Capitol Hill. The highest Republicans on the Home and Senate Armed Companies committees in addition to the Home International Affairs and Senate International Relations panels dinged the administration and pressed for extra data in a letter to Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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“Inviting Russia into discussions will not further vital U.S. counterterrorism goals, nor is it the path to the ‘stable and predictable’ relationship with Russia the Biden Administration claims it wants,” lawmakers wrote.

“Any attempt to coordinate military basing access or operations with the Russian Federation risks violating the legal prohibition on U.S.-Russian military cooperation,” they added.

With no troops left in Afghanistan, the Biden administration has been searching for places from which to conduct “over-the-horizon” operations in opposition to terrorist teams there. Lawmakers have criticized the idea as unworkable.

Senators once more bashed the administration for missing a practical plan to conduct counterterrorism operations following a withdrawal they contend will exacerbate terrorist threats in opposition to the U.S.

“What we’re seeing in the reports today about asking to use Russian bases, that’s just another example that we see of the Biden administration,” stated Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), who pressed Austin concerning the discussions with Russia. “They’ve really left us in a terrible position, that we have to ask the Russians to be able to protect the United States from terrorists and we have to ask them to use their installations.”

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Austin and Milley, together with U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie, confronted withering questions from senators over U.S. missteps within the withdrawal from Afghanistan. McKenzie instructed Senate Armed Companies that he beneficial retaining 2,500 troops in Afghanistan to maintain the Taliban at bay, a advice Milley instructed senators he agreed with.