20th Plenary Session of the U.S. – Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs Concludes

By Lt. Col. Holly Slaughter DPAA

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U.S. and Russian delegates completed the 20th Jubilee Plenum of the United States – Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC) May 24, in Arlington, Virginia, where they discussed U.S.-Russia cooperation on the accounting mission.

The USRJC was established in 1992 as an agreement between President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin to determine the fates of Americans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War, who are believed to be missing on the territory of the former Soviet Union, or about whom the Russians may have information. The second goal of the Commission was to determine the fates of Russian servicemen who are still missing from various conflicts, including the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, from 1979-1989.

During this first plenary session held in more than 10 years, the USRJC was re-energized to make further progress in each of the four conflict’s working groups, which all agreed to expand archival research opportunities in both countries.

The U.S. side declared that they will continue its work to find information on the 264 servicemen Russia has listed as MIA from its involvement in Afghanistan. The U.S. side will also increase its efforts to help the Russian side determine what happened to its missing citizens from the other four conflicts.

USRJC delegates also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, May 23, paying homage to the veterans from the U.S. and Russia who sacrificed their lives for their countries.

The U.S. Chairman of the Commission is General (retired) Robert “Doc” Foglesong. Other U.S. members include Senator Joe Manchin; Congressmen Tim Walz and Sam Johnson; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Kathleen Kavalec; and Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) director, Michael Linnington, among others. The Russian Chairman is General-Colonel Valeriy Vostrotin. Other Russian members include parliamentarians, heads of major Russian archives, officials from the Ministry of Defense and the Russian Red Cross, among others.

The next plenary session of this presidentially-mandated commission is tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2017 in Russia. Constructive engagement on this humanitarian mission is expected to continue.


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