The US and Russia have signed a memorandum of agreement about safe conduct while flying over Syria, but the ongoing mistrust between the two sides means the agreement may have little real-world impact.

The agreement, announced by the Pentagon’s press secretary, Peter Cook, on Tuesday, includes a “series of protocols in place that effectively are intended to avoid any sort of risk of a midair incident between our aircrews and Russian aircrews.

“If they follow these protocols we should not have the risk of engagement of Russian aircrews over Syria,” he said. “In the event there is an incident or engagement in the air, there are protocols they can follow and an ability to engage with each other in the air to make sure everyone is operating safely. As a back up to that, there is a separate line of communication that is available should communication in the air break down for some reason.” […]