Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

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Emergency Situations:
Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergey Shoigu and
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate

Inter-Agency Participants:

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United States


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

National Security Council

Department of State

Department of Defense

Department of Agriculture

Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Agency for International Development

U.S. European Command

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM)

Dates Groups Convened:

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September 2009:

Digital Video Conference was held between FEMA and EMERCOM to plan for May 2010 tabletop exercise in Moscow.

December 2009:

A delegation of FEMA and USAID met with EMERCOM in Moscow and visited the Central Search and Rescue Team (CentroSpas) base. The Delegation also attended a special conference to prepare for the joint tabletop exercise in May 2010.

December 2009:

FEMA Administrator Fugate and Deputy Minster Tsalikov led a Working Group/Joint Committee meeting in Washington, D.C.

March 2010:

Final Planning Conference for tabletop exercise was held via Video Conference.

April 2010:

The Central Search and Rescue Team (CentroSpas) and the North-West Regional Search and Rescue Team visited the United States under the bi-lateral rescue teams exchange program.

May 2010:

Russia-U.S. seminar in Moscow on provision of humanitarian aid to third countries

May 2010:

A U.S. Delegation took part in Integrated Safety and Security Exhibition (ISSE) in Moscow.

May 2010:

A Joint tabletop exercise on earthquake search and rescue operations in third countries was held at the Central Search and Rescue Team (CentroSpas) base in Zhukovski.

May 2010:

14th meeting of the Joint U.S.-Russia Committee on Cooperation in Emergency Management was held in Moscow.


Cooperation between FEMA and EMERCOM is longstanding, and is founded uponthe July 1996 Memorandum of Understanding between the United States andRussian Federationon cooperation in natural and man-made emergency prevention and response and on June 2007 Addendum to this Memorandum.

  • Urban Search and Rescue: In 2009-2010, officials from FEMA, EMERCOM, USAID and other agencies engaged in numerous meetings and exchanges with the aim of strengthening the capacity of rescue teams in U.S. and Russia, improving coordination of joint activities during international search and rescue operations, and exchanging experience in the areas of national and international certification of rescue task forces. These joint activities led to the U.S.-Russia Tabletop Exercise on Earthquake Urban Search and Rescue held May 23-26, 2010 in the city of Zhukovskiy. The tabletop exercise covered the entire international response cycle: preliminary information gathering and identification of the necessary response format, disaster response team transfer to the site, different types of rescue operations, technical and medical support of operations, coordination with local authorities and international organizations, and removal of response teams from the disaster zone. This exercise permitted the comparison of U.S. and Russian methods of rescue operations in order to improve the countries’ respective rescue services as well as improvement in existing international response practices. Additionally, FEMA and EMERCOM specialists discussed the issue of certification of fire-fighters and rescue teams and also actions undertaken by the Russian rescue task force for the alleviation of the manmade disaster at Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro-power station in 2009.

    In April 2010, EMERCOM officials, including members of the Northwest Region Search and Rescue Unit and its International Disaster Response team, traveled to Washington and shared best practices with representatives from FEMA, the National Emergency Training Center, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue/Virginia Task Force 1, the U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Operations, the American Red Cross, and the George Washington University Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management. This visit was also an opportunity for members of the U.S. and Russian teams involved in responding to the 2010 disaster in Haiti to review lessons learned and to discuss U.S.-Russia disaster response coordination.

  • International Disaster Response and Relief: The U.S and Russia play an important role in delivering food and humanitarian aid worldwide. Over the last decade, Russia has re-emerged as a donor state and in addition to its bilateral participation in international humanitarian and rescue operations through EMERCOM, is providing financial support and implementation of humanitarian projects through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Civic Defense Organization, and other multilateral organizations, and is also funding a U.N. Central Emergency Response Unit. EMERCOM and USAID jointly sponsored a workshop in May 2010 in Moscow on International Humanitarian and Food Aid (Complex Emergency Response) with the participation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and others. Participants discussed questions connected with providing humanitarian and food aid, including the methods of delivery, interaction with international and non-governmental organizations, purchasing methods and standards for goods supplied as international humanitarian assistance, and also on strategies to transition from providing emergency disaster relief to restoration and development activities. In addition, American and Russian partners examined in detail their efforts in providing aid to alleviate the consequences of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and concluded that active U.S. and Russia cooperation in food and humanitarian programs creates a platform for the development and implementation of joint humanitarian projects in the third countries.

  • Coordination of Joint Work: On May 27, EMERCOM hosted the 14th Annual Meeting of the Joint U.S.-Russia Committee on Cooperation in Emergency Management at its National Crisis Management Center in Moscow, which was co-chaired by EMERCOM and FEMA. The purpose of these annual sessions is to review workplan results and to plan the next year’s activities. The principal outcomes of the meeting were the adoption of the 2010-2012 Work Plan for U.S.-Russia Cooperation in Emergency Management (by EMERCOM, FEMA and USAID), which provides for the continuation of close collaboration allowing for the development and improvement of national capabilities in the area of emergency management response.

Agenda for Future:

Based upon the results of the 14th session of the Joint Committee, the parties determined a number of priority areas for future cooperation, including:

  • Exchange best practices in “mass event planning” to better ensure public safety at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

  • Continue exchange programs between rescue services, emphasizing training methods for rescuers and equipment of staging areas;

  • Expand cooperation in areas of disaster monitoring and prognosis, including the U.S. Geological Survey.

  • Plan and implement joint humanitarian operation to provide food aid to a country in Central-Asia;

  • Exchange experience on the creation, functioning and the development of national emergency management systems.

  • Continue to develop cooperation between Russian and American regional emergency response organizations.

  • Exchange best practices in fire-extinguishing technology.

  • Improve operational information exchanges during planned humanitarian and disaster response efforts in third countries.

  • Exchange best practices in the functioning of emergency operations centers, at the local, regional and national levels.

  • Exchange best practices in addressing the needs of children in emergency situations.

  • Exchange concepts and information on building disaster resistant communities and community resiliency.

  • Exchange best practices in Mass Transit Emergency Events.

  • Exchange best practices in medical aspects of emergency response.

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