The deconfliction line established this week between the United States and Russia is a “level of bilateral deconfliction between the United States and Russia,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing at the Pentagon Friday.
The line is operated by U.S. European Command under Gen. Tod Wolters, the commander of U.S. European Command,
“It is administered as a bilateral deconfliction level between the United States and Russia, which is why it is managed from the headquarters of the United States European Command and not General Wolters under his NATO hat” , said Kirby.
Kirby said the deconfliction line is valuable “to reduce the risk of miscalculation and to be able to communicate in real time, if necessary, especially now that the airspace over Ukraine is contested by Russian and Ukrainian planes”.
The phone line is “at a lower operational level,” Kirby said.
“It’s basically made up of staff officers there at European Command headquarters,” he continued.
More background: The deconfliction hotline that was set up this week between the United States and Russia has worked in its original configuration, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Friday.
The phone line worked on the initial test call the United States made to Russia, the official said.
“It’s in place, the Russians recognized it, in our first test they answered the phone, so we know they know who’s calling and they will at least, as far as initiation is concerned initial, the setting after that, it worked and they answered the line,” the manager said.
The establishment of the agreement was particularly notable because so far Pentagon officials have said they have had no direct communication with their Russian counterparts since the invasion.
There had been an effort to establish the line of communication since late last month. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu on February 18. The two also spoke a week earlier. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley last spoke with Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov on February 11.
The United States specifically rejected any no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it would put American pilots in a combat scenario to enforce such a plan. But the door is not closed on a potential future air humanitarian corridor to ensure the safe flight of relief supplies hostilities cease, officials said.
A conflict protocol has existed for several years between US and Russian forces in Syria. For the most part, it worked, although US officials repeatedly complained that the Russians did not give enough advance warning of their operations. The United States does not give detailed information to Russia, but informed them recently when American planes would operate in a wide area northeast of Syria.