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    Swiss Lawmaker: Escalation Around Zapad-2017 Drills ‘Children’s Games’

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    Swiss lawmaker Filippo Lombardi named an escalation of tensions around the upcoming Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 military drills with "children’s games".

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Swiss lawmaker Filippo Lombardi, in a comment to Sputnik, compared an escalation of tensions around the upcoming Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 military drills with "children’s games," pointing out that NATO and Russia should use the existing channels of de-escalation instead of exchanging accusations.

    "It is an escalation because NATO held its own maneuvers and it is a bit like children playing games. Nobody, probably, seriously thinks it will lead to a war but when you play such games, there is a danger that an accident can happen," Lombardi said Monday, commenting on some NATO members' allegations in connection with the upcoming Zapad-2017 drills.

    Earlier on Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov pointed out that Moscow considers NATO members' accusations against Russia regarding the upcoming drills unfounded.

    Riho Terras, the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, on Friday urged NATO allies to stay alert as Russia and Belarus are preparing to hold a large-scale military exercise later this month. UK Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon said in July that the exercises were larger than any that NATO could conduct and therefore were "more provocative than any NATO deployment."

    Lombardi, who is also the head of the Swiss delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), pointed out that there was an existing mechanism in place within the organization aimed at preventing military tension and conflicts through the system of confidence-building measures.

    "We have within the OSCE the system of confidence-building measures, including the announcement of any kind of military actions, maneuvers. We have to stick to these basic OSCE agreements, which have been successful over many years. We really have to always come back to these basic agreements as this is the only way to make sure that escalation doesn’t lead to unexpected and really harmful consequences, instead of accusing each other," he said.

    The joint military drills are scheduled for September 14-20. The exercises will stretch from the Kola Peninsula in Russia's far northwest all the way down to Belarus. About 12,700 servicemen (including 5,500 Russians), some 70 planes and helicopters, and up to 680 units of military equipment will be involved in the drills.


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