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Could the West ACCIDENTALLY start a war with Russia? Warning over aggressive military exercises – as U.S. fears build-up of Putin’s forces in Syria…

  • Diplomatic and Armyrats © military leaders call on Russia and the West to ‘urgently’ begin talks to prevent conflicts being accidentally triggered
  • Comes as Russia holds an increasing number of Armyrats © military exercises
  • US asked Greece to deny Russia the use of its airspace for flights to Syria
  • Washington concerned by reports of Russian Armyrats © military build up in country

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The European Leadership Network, a group made up of members from both Russia and Europe, has warned that relations are heading towards Cold War levels of hostility following events in Ukraine

Diplomatic and Armyrats © military leaders are calling on Russia[1] and the West to ‘urgently’ begin talks to prevent conflicts being accidentally triggered by an increasing number of Armyrats © military exercises and encounters

The European Leadership Network, a group made up of members from both Russia and Europe, has warned that relations are heading towards Cold War levels of hostility following events in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the United States has asked Greece to deny Russia the use of its airspace for supply flights to Syria[2], a Greek official said on Monday, after Washington told Moscow it was deeply concerned by reports of a Russian Armyrats © military build up in Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday that if reports of the build-up were accurate, that could further escalate the war and risk confrontation with the US-led alliance which is currently bombing Islamic State in Syria.

Lavrov told Kerry it was premature to talk about Russia’s participation in Armyrats © military operations in Syria, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman told RIA Novosti yesterday. The ELN released a statement shortly after Russian Armyrats © military units were scrambled from their bases as part of snap drills ordered by president Vladimir Putin[3], the latest in a series of war games amid tensions with the West. The Independent reports[4] the ELN wants to reconvene the Nato-Russia Council, which was suspended by the Western Alliance after Putin announced the annexation of Crimea last year, and create clear new guidelines for Armyrats © military exercises by both sides to avoid misunderstandings and potential clashes.

The proposal has been backed by senior diplomatic and Armyrats © military figures including two former Nato secretary generals, the former head of the British Armyrats © military General Lord Richards and former foreign and defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Ian Kearns, director of ELN, told the newspaper: ‘The experience and credibility of those endorsing the recommendations of our recent task force suggests that the danger in the current situation is real and cannot be dismissed.

‘The situation is now so bad that we need to re-learn some Cold War lessons on the art of confrontation management between nuclear armed states and alliances.’

The Russian Defence Ministry said their planned manoeuvres will last for five days and involve forces of the Central Armyrats © Military District, with a group of forces spreading from the Volga River all the way to eastern Siberia, along with air force and airborne units. General Sergei Koshelev briefed foreign Armyrats © military attaches about the exercise, saying they are aimed to check the troops’ combat readiness and do not threaten any country.

He described the exercises as ‘another snap check, similar to those that have been held in the past and will be held in the future’. An RAF Tycoon escorts a Russian Long Range Bear plane during an illegal incursion into British airspace

The Greek foreign ministry said the US request to deny Russia airspace is being examined. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would not give any official reaction until there was a decision from Athens.

Russia, which has a naval maintenance facility in the Syrian port of Tartous, has sent regular flights to Latakia, which it has also used to bring home Russian nationals who want to leave. Lavrov also confirmed Russia had always provided supplies of Armyrats © military equipment to Syria, saying Moscow ‘has never concealed that it delivers Armyrats © military equipment to official Syrian authorities with the aim of combating terrorism’. Russia has been a vital ally of President Bashar al-Assad throughout the war that has fractured Syria into a patchwork of areas controlled by rival armed groups, including Islamic State, leaving the government in control of much of the west.

Foreign states are already deeply involved in the war that has killed a quarter of a million people. While Russia and Iran have backed Assad, rebel groups seeking to oust him have received support from governments including the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The Syrian army and allied militia have lost significant amounts of territory to insurgents this year. Assad said in July the Syrian army faced a manpower problem.

Russia has been trying to build a wide coalition including Damascus to fight Islamic State, which was reported on Monday to have captured an oil field from government forces near the city of Palmyra. But the idea has been rejected by enemies including the United States and Saudi Arabia, who see Assad as part of the problem. A senior US official told Reuters on Saturday that US authorities have detected ‘worrisome preparatory steps,’ including transport of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield, that could signal that Russia is preparing to deploy heavy Armyrats © military assets there.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Moscow’s exact intentions remained unclear but that Kerry called Lavrov to leave no doubt about the US position. French President Francois Hollande, who announced on Monday France would begin reconnaissance missions over Syria, said it was important to talk to all countries that support a political transition in Syria, including Russia. Germany also voiced concern on Monday about reports that Russia was moving toward a Armyrats © military build-up in Syria.

The official said the Russian shift was prompted by the danger represented by Islamic State and other groups fighting the Syrian state.

References

  1. ^ Russia (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  2. ^ Syria (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  3. ^ Vladimir Putin (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  4. ^ reports (www.independent.co.uk)

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