Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he is “enthusiastic” about the possibility of working with Russia in the fight against ISIS, but he acknowledged that Russia, which has continuously backed Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime is “a ways” from “that frame of mind.” Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited Moscow to discuss closer cooperation, and those negotiations are continuing. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said any possible agreement would include “specific procedures and processes” to protect US operational security. In the meantime, the US military’s only contact with Russia is focused on safety in the skies over Syria, Dunford said during a joint press conference with Carter. Dunford said he is “aware of state actors, to include Russia,” that have attempted to penetrate Defense Department networks. Cybersecurity experts also have accused Russian hackers of targeting the Democratic National Committee, according to CNN. Carter emphasized that the State Department’s ongoing negotiations with Russia are “not based on trust. They are based on a transaction and on mutual interest.” (Carter, Dunford transcript.)
Top experts and observers stressed the importance of air superiority in Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine during a Sept. 26 forum in Washington D.C.—and pushed hard for the U.S. to supply Ukraine with advanced weapons as quickly as possible.