President Obama will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in New York next week to discuss Russia’s intentions in Syria, but US officials insist the discussion will not take away from its commitment to defend Ukraine. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Defense Minister Colonel-General Stepan Poltorak that the US should pursue the shared interest of the destruction of ISIS, while pushing the Kremlin to simultaneously work toward a political transition in Syria. Russia has moved large amounts of fighter jets, tanks, and troops into western Syria—a move US officials have said is meant to bolster pro-Assad forces. Discussions, such as next week’s, are needed to find “if it is possible for our interests … [to] overlap,” and then the two countries can begin pursuing those steps, Carter said. Poltorak ?believes Russia’s incursion into Syria is a way to try and divert international attention away from the ongoing situation in Crimea.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.