"U.S. - Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs
Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD)
Summary of Discussions between
DASD Jerry Jennings and
General Vladimir Zolotarev, Co-Chairman, US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs and
Held in the Offices of General Zolotarev, Staraya Ploshchad', Moscow
26 September 2002, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Representing the U.S. Side:
The Honorable Jerry D. Jennings Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Affairs Commissioner, U.S. Side, U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC)
Mr. Norman Kass Senior Director, Joint Commission Support Directorate Executive Secretary, U.S. Side, USRJC
Mr. James Gravelle General Counsel, Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office
Mr. James Shonborn Deputy Chief, Moscow Office, Joint Commission Support Directorate
Major Jeff Bridges Aide de Camp, Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office
TSgt Thomas W. Shipp Jr. Vietnam War Analyst, Joint Commission Support Directorate
Representing the Russian Side:
General-Major (ret) Vladimir Antonovich Zolotarev Co-Chairman, Russian Side, U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC)
General-Major Konstantin Viktorovich Golumbovskii Deputy Co-Chairman, Russian Side, USRJC
General-Major Nikolay Maksimovich Bezborodov Co-Chairman, Vietnam War Working Group, Russian Side, USRJC Deputy Chairman of the State Duma's Armed Forces Committee
Miss Natalya Mikhailovna Levina Executive Secretary, Russian Side, USRJC
Colonel Valerii Filippov Vietnam War Working Group, Russian Side, USRJC General Staff of the Russian Federation
Colonel Nikiforov Co-Chairman, World War II Working Group, Russian Side, USRJC Institute of Military History
Colonel (ret) Aleksandr Semenovich Orlov Co-Chairman, Korean War Working Group, Russian Side, USRJC
Colonel (ret) Vladimir Konstantinovich Vinogradov Co-Chairman, Cold War Working Group, Russian Side, USRJC
Mr. Vasilii Stepanovich Khristoforov Cold War Working Group, Russian Side, USRJC Director, FSB Archival Services
Colonel Viktor Valentinovich Fadeyev Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), General Staff
Opening Statements and Introductions
General Zolotarev opened the meeting by welcoming Mr. Jennings and his delegation and then introducing the Russian Side of the Commission. Zolotarev noted that he had a number of items to pass along, including one document with "124 facts" relating to American loss incidents during the Vietnam War. As a welcoming gesture, Zolotarev presented Jennings with two books on military history, which the General had edited for publication.
Mr. Jennings expressed his appreciation to General Zolotarev for the invitation to meet with him and briefly explained his responsibilities within the Defense Department. Jennings underscored his keen interest in the work of the Commission. Noting that their meeting was taking place 15 days after the one-year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack, Jennings observed that that tragic event should serve as a reminder of the sanctity of Commission's work on behalf of our service members, their families, and fellow citizens. He then introduced the membership of the U.S. delegation.
General Zolotarev echoed Mr. Jennings' sentiments about the tragedy that occurred last year and offered heartfelt condolences on the behalf of his fellow Commission members. Noting that both the Russian and American sides of the Commission share mutual goals, the General indicated that he looked forward to continued cooperation with the U.S. Side. Along these lines, he suggested that the Commission consider holding its next plenary session this November, by which time all the working groups will have had a chance to exchange information and plan future initiatives. He then expressed appreciation to the U.S. Side for the historical records it had provided regarding Soviet POWs from World War II. Statistical data from those sources, he noted, appeared in a publication recently released by the Institute of Military History.
Mr. Jennings then presented General Zolotarev with a plaque in honor of the Commission's Tenth Anniversary as well as a crystal globe symbolizing the worldwide efforts of DPMO on behalf of unaccounted-for servicemen and their families. Citing the Commission's impressive accomplishments as contained in its April 2001 Presidential Report, Jennings indicated his interest in exploring ways to clarify the many issues still unresolved. In particular, he focused on a previous understanding reached with the then first deputy chief of the General Staff, General-Colonel Valerii Manilov, according to which a panel of researchers was to be assembled to conduct a thorough review of all holdings, especially classified ones, retained at the Ministry of Defense's Central Archives at Podolsk. The search was to focus on any holdings which may have a relationship to American POW/MIAs from the Korean War. He added that there is keen interest in this issue, especially on the part of the families of missing personnel from the Korean War. To underscore this point, he described the hopes and expectations placed on the Commission's work from among the more than 800 family members who attended a DPMO-hosted meeting recently held in Washington, D.C.
Narrowing in on the archival search promised by Manilov, Jennings pointed out that the initial inquiry into Korean War documents was to have been broadened to encompass Vietnam-era records as well. Unfortunately, however, in the three years since the Russian Side agreed to launch its archival probe, there has been nothing more that a series of inconclusive interim statements about its status, with no indication that it is being conducted in the comprehensive way initially envisioned by the U.S. Side. DASD Jennings noted that he eagerly awaits a statement setting out the details of the archival search undertaken and indicated his readiness to provide any support that may be required to achieve this objective.
In his reply, Zolotarev noted that there were certain positive results from the Manilov-endorsed project but failed to provide any specific examples. Observing that he had met with U.S. family members on several occasions, he expressed compassion for them and understanding for the situation in which they found themselves. He went on to say that he endorsed Mr. Jennings' assertion that both sides should look for positive ways to further the Commission's humanitarian work. Zolotarev then turned to the Colonel Valerii Filippov of the General Staff to provide an update on the archival search undertaken at the archives of the Ministry of Defense.
Col. Filippov remarked that military documents are stored at three sites dedicated specifically for that purpose: the Central Archives at Podolsk, the Naval Archives at Gatchina, and the Military Medical Archives in St. Petersburg. Archival searches for materials concerning U.S. POWs, he noted, were conducted mainly at the Central Archives in Podolsk. Filippov confirmed that the searches were conducted in response to Manilov's tasking and that the special research group set up for that purpose continues its work. Filippov noted that, although most of Korean War holdings had been declassified, there remain those which, even now, cannot be released.
As regards Vietnam-era documentation, he indicated that most holdings from that period remain classified, although excerpts relating to the Commission's work have been passed to the U.S. Side. He emphasized that documents not shared with American Commission members contain no information about U.S. servicemen. Filippov concluded his remarks by indicating that the archival search is continuing and then called upon General-Major Nikolai Bezborodov, the Russian Side's Vietnam War Working Group Chairman, to provide a report on specific results achieved.
The Vietnam War Working Group
General Bezborodov welcomed Mr. Jennings to Moscow and began his report on the work conducted at Podolsk. According to Bezborodov, as of 25 September 2002, the archivists at Podolsk have reviewed more than 700 files concerning the Vietnam War. These files were from the PVO Headquarters [Air Defense HQ], the Air Force HQ, the 10th Main Directorate of the General Staff, and various military agencies. Other records consulted, according to the general, were numerous reports and informational sheets regarding Soviet military assistance to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) as well as documents from the PVO and Air Forces of the North Vietnamese Armed Forces. Bezborodov characterized the archival holdings as being comprised of statistical data of a general nature. By his account, numbers of aircraft shot down appear in the documents, but there is no reference to specific details about individual loss incidents, e.g., no identifying numbers, names, or dates.
Bezborodov then noted that the most recent results of the research conducted on Vietnam War losses are contained in a list of 124 incidents that General Zolotarev has received for transmittal to the U.S. Side during today's meeting. Bezborodov asked that the U.S. Side review the list and indicated that he would be prepared to respond to any questions that the U.S. Side may have about the list. As an aside, he disclosed that the archival holdings also contained information about 16 instances of unmanned aircraft (i.e., drones) shot down by air defense forces. Bezborodov concluded by stating that the archival search for Vietnam-era documents is continuing but is unfortunately coming to an end.
The Korean War Working Group
General Zolotarev next introduced Col. Orlov and asked him to report on the Korean War Working Group's activities.
Col. Orlov began his remarks by citing the working group's two primary avenues of inquiry, one focused on archival research, the other on interviews. Key repositories of the Ministry of Defense, according to Orlov, reside at the Central Military Archives at Podolsk, the Naval Archives in Gatchina, and the Military Medical Archives in St. Petersburg. Orlov noted that, as far as the Podolsk facility is concerned, U.S. researchers have been reviewing documents there for the past five years. He also acknowledged that many of the documents that may contain information on the fate of U.S. POW/MIAs have disappeared. Without elaborating on the basis for such a statement, he went on to say that the absence of relevant documentation from the archives does not mean that the search has been stopped, merely that the Russian Side of the Commission should explore alternative channels for obtaining this information. Orlov reminded his audience that the Russian Side has already provided U.S. counterparts with more than 16,000 pages of archival documents, which have helped clarify the fates of some 140 U.S. pilots.
Orlov then turned to the interview program, thanks to which the working group has spoken with more than 600 Korean War veterans residing primarily in the Russian Federation as well as a number of American pilots who fought in the war. He noted that relations between Russian and American veterans of the Korean War have improved over time, allowing the Russian Side to clarify the fates of some of their missing servicemen.
The working group, Orlov observed, is now focusing its efforts on finding and interviewing members of Soviet search groups active in the inspection of crash sites during the Korean War. Since personnel serving in these groups went directly to crash sites, Orlov reiterated an oft-stated American assumption that the information they obtained may well shed the light on the fates of missing American and Russian pilots.
Col. Orlov next addressed the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the end of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula. He stated that the Russian Side will be very busy in the months ahead, supporting several projects, among them televised documentaries, one of which has already been aired. [Note: JCSD-Moscow has requested a copy through the Public Affairs Office]. Orlov expressed the hope that U.S. veterans would participate in these commemorative events and promised to provide the U.S. Side with additional information about them as it becomes available.
Turning to Russian losses during the Korean War, Orlov noted that the Russian Side is updating its "List of 23" to incorporate inputs previously provided by the U.S. Side. He then went on to ask for assistance in clarifying the fate of a Russian pilot lost when his MiG-15 aircraft was shot down in August 1952. According to Orlov's account, the plane was transferred to the United States for technical exploitation. [Note: The U.S. Side has agreed to research the incident and will convey any relevant findings to the Russian Side].
The Cold War Working Group
General Zolotarev thanked Col. Orlov and introduced Col. Vinogradov, whom he asked to provide an update on the Cold War Working Group.
Col. Vinogradov reported that on the previous day the Cold War Working Group had met with Mr. Denis Clift. He then introduced Mr.Vasilii Stepanovich Khristoforov, head of the Archival Service within the Federal Security Service (or FSB). Mr. Khristoforov had also attended the previous day's session, at which the working group was able to discuss archival access (including FSB Archive access) and the future direction of its work.
Addressing the recurrent topic of American citizens detained in the Soviet camp system and psychiatric hospitals, Vinogradov opined that most U.S. citizens who were found on Soviet soil were there in the period immediately following World War II and that they had arrived of their own volition. A search for evidence of U.S. citizens allegedly held in such facilities failed to produce any basis for corroboration, the Colonel insisted. The Russian Side's study of prison logs for entries concerning nationality and yielded similar results. Vinogradov explained this unimpressive outcome in terms of the difficulty of determining American "nationality" [or, more accurately, citizenship]. To illustrate this point he postulated that certain detainees may have claimed American citizenship by virtue of having lived in America or having been born there. But, the Colonel went on to announce, such fortuitous events by no means meant that these individuals were in fact American citizens [sic]. To underscore the unbiased nature of his inquiry, the Colonel pointed out that the research which he has summarized was conducted well before anyone would have expected the Commission to take an interest in this topic. With this as background, the Colonel boldly proclaimed that the data he presented must be correct since there was not reason to mislead or deceive anyone.
Focusing on issues specific to the working group, Vinogradov remarked that the majority of loss incidents occurred over water, a fact that made it difficult to determine the fates of the personnel involved. He noted that there were 10-12 air losses, and, from past testimony of witnesses, the U.S. Side is aware that American personnel involved in these incidents had perished. Difficulties notwithstanding, the working group continues the search for witnesses, a process facilitated by archival documents, which have proved helpful in identifying people to interview. While noting that the issue of classification is of particular relevance to FSB archives, Vinogradov hastened to add that he saw no obstacle in accessing information pertaining to U.S. citizens. He went on to say that declassification specialists are continuing their review of documents for public release and expressed optimism that their efforts may indeed result in the disclosure of documents relevant to the fates of missing servicemen.
Vinogradov then touched upon the work being done to locate the gravesite of Major Eugene Posa and the difficulties encountered in the process. These include conflicting reports about the actual burial site; the likelihood that there is no headstone to mark his resting place, and the paucity of information available with respect to over-water losses in general. That aside, the Colonel made clear that he fully understands the concerns of Posa's daughter and indicated that he and his colleagues are ready to help in any way they can. As if to underscore that commitment, he noted that the Russian Side had recently provided to U.S. counterparts information on the loss recently obtained from the Border Guards' archives.
In a reference to the invaluable research on Cold War losses undertaken by retired Rear Admiral Boris Novyi, the Colonel acknowledged the importance of Admiral Novyi's contribution and emphasized that the FSB has in no way sought to hinder the work of any independent Russian experts on these matters. Vinogradov observed that, while on active duty, Novyi had served in the northern regions of Russia and that the contacts he established there would be of inestimable value to the working group's research.
On a final note, Vinogradov stated that the Russian Side continues to seek clarification of the working group's unresolved issues. He then expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Side for passing information helpful in resolving the fates of Soviet-era servicemen missing from Afghanistan and other "hot spots." In that same vein he called upon American counterparts to share with the Russian Side any additional information that may be available concerning the crew of the Golf-class K-129 submarine which sank in 1968. [Note: The U.S. Side is on record as having provided the Russian Government with all available information concerning the submarine's crew].
The World War II Working Group
General Zolotarev introduced Col. Nikiforov and asked him to report on WWII Working Group activities.
Mr. Jennings stated that President Bush just signed an act creating an additional World War II Memorial and that this signified the importance to the United States of honoring those who served in the war and those who remained upon the unaccounted-for.
Col. Nikiforov pointed out that President Putin had just ordered preparations for commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II. He claimed that a great deal of work would be carried out to honor the memories of the men and women who gave their lives during. As part of this effort a "Memory Book" published under the direction of General Zolotarev would appear in print later this year. With obvious pride and a penchant for partisanship, he remarked that, of all four of the Commission's working groups, the one dealing with World War II had recorded the most impressive results. In particular, he cited the U.S. Side's assistance in determining the number of Russian losses sustained in World War II, a matter of considerable importance to the Russian government and its people. He reminded his audience that last year's recovery operation on the Kamchatka Peninsula established beyond question that many issues are yet to be addressed. In his concluding comments, Nikiforov noted his readiness to receive additional information regarding missing servicemen from World War II.
President Putin and the Joint Report
General Zolotarev thanked Col. Nikiforov for his report and remarked that President Putin took the work of the Commission seriously. He added that President Putin keeps his copy of the Joint Report in his personal archive.
Assistance from the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU)
Mr. Jennings then addressed the issue of assistance the U.S. Side seeks from the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff or GRU. He informed the Russian Side that U.S. researchers had recently re-examined interrogation protocols and debriefings of American POWs from the Korean and Vietnam wars who had returned to U.S. military control. These included some forty protocols from the Korean War that the Russian Side had provided in April 1993. Analysis of these documents has generated a list of 25 Korean War MIAs believed to have been alive at the time they went missing. [Mr. Jennings passes the list to the Russian Side.] Jennings further noted that, because of their technical expertise, those named on the list would undoubtedly have been of considerable value to their captors. The former USSR's interest in such individuals, Jennings asserted, is reaffirmed by testimony from a number of former U.S. POWs who cited the presence of Soviet advisors during interrogation sessions [Note: At this point, Col. Vinogradov turned to Mr. Khristoforov and said, "Yes, one of them is sitting right next to me" (referring to Col. Orlov)]. Completing his point, Jennings observed that such individuals would have reported to their leadership and that these reports would be very beneficial to efforts aimed at clarifying the fates of the missing.
Mr. Jennings then turned to the issue of the GRU's role in the Vietnam War and requested the Russian Side's assistance in locating and arranging interviews with GRU officials of particular interest to U.S. analysts. [Note: A list of 13 GRU veterans with Vietnam-era experience is passed to the Russian Side. Khristoforov reviews it, then hands it to Fadeyev. Later Mr. Fadeyev indicates to Mr. Kass that at least two individuals on the list have passed away and others have retired. Fadeyev further notes that he will assist us in our efforts to contact the remaining GRU personnel named on the list].
Mr. Jennings noted that the U.S. Side recognizes cooperation to be a two-way street. Pointing out the unprecedented level of information sharing between the two governments, Jennings reaffirmed America's commitment to assist the Russian Side in clarifying the fates of its MIAs. This cooperative relationship, he observed, was buttressed by the fact that President Putin enjoys respect in America for his resolve, intelligence, and energy to address the world's problems.
Summarizing some of the highlights of the discussion, Jennings expressed satisfaction that the Commission's work relating to World War II issues has been productive and that documents obtained through the National Archives in Washington have been helpful in clarifying the fates of Russian unaccounted-for. He then suggested that both sides build upon the success of last year's recovery operation in Kamchatka as there are likely to be additional sites where aircraft may have crashed in that same region. He noted his support for efforts to identify the gravesite of Eugene Posa and hailed as promising current attempts to establish a research relationship with the St. Petersburg Military Medical Archives, a major repository of potentially valuable POW/MIA-related holdings.
Mr. Jennings then explained to the Russian Side that the President is briefed by National Security Council (NSC) staff on POW/MIA issues and that success in this area is of special interest to the President and senior leadership.
General Zolotarev thanked Mr. Jennings and his delegation for attending the meeting and expressed his solidarity in working together to resolve the fates of missing servicemen from both countries.
The meeting was then adjourned."
Courtesy DPMO Website - http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/
Department of Defense,
Defense Prisoner Of War/Missing Personnel Office
2400 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-2400