As US and Soviet forces converged in Germany in the final days of WWII, soldiers from both armies met at the River Elbe near Torgau. That historic meeting of comrades, united in the face of common threats, is the inspiration for the creation of a unique group, the Elbe Group.
The purpose of the “Elbe Group,” launched by Brigadier General (ret.) Kevin Ryan in 2010, is to maintain an open and continuous channel of communication on sensitive issues of US-Russian relations.
The members of the Elbe Group are senior retired military and intelligence flag officers, all of whom have strong connections back into their governments. It is an unprecedented gathering of three and four star veterans from the Federal Security Service, Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, Ministry of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Department of Defense. The Elbe Group has high level visibility in both the US and Russian governments. President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have all been personally briefed on the group by Russian members. Current chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov participated in the Elbe Group Round Table on Missile Defense in November 2011, hosted by former Minister of Interior, General Anatoly Kulikov. US members likewise send feedback directly to the highest levels in Department of State, DIA, CIA and Defense Department.
The Elbe Group meets annually.