Russia and NATO must reach an agreement on how to prevent military encounters in order to reduce the possibility of an all-out war between the West and Moscow, according to a group of former defense and foreign ministers, as reported by Reuters.
On Wednesday, the group of former ministers expressed their concerns over the high possibility of military confrontation between Russia and NATO as a result of unintentional mid-air encounters between rival military aircraft during military drills from both sides.
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The group of 14, including former Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov, former defense and foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, France, Turkey and Spain, urged Russian and NATO officials to organize a high-level meeting in order to establish communication and prevent sea and air face-offs.
“The situation is ripe with potential for either dangerous miscalculation or an accident that could trigger a worsening of the crisis or even a direct military confrontation,” ministers said in a report published by the London-based European Leadership Network.
Russia and NATO’s intensified war games – which are explained by the need to prepare for a possible conflict – make a heated military confrontation between the two sides something that is not impossible anymore.
Each military drills carried out by one side is viewed as a provocation by the other side, which thus fosters mistrust and unpredictability, the group of former ministers said, while calling for a productive dialogue.
Two crucial recommendations expressed by the London-based think tank include: complete transparency of military maneuvers and bringing down the level of intensity of war games.
Former ministers urge Russia and NATO to reach agreement
The think tank also recorded 66 “close military encounters” between NATO and Russia’s military forces as well as between Russia and neutral Finland and Sweden, both of which are NATO inclined.
It’s in Russia’s hands to avoid military conflict against NATO and reduce the level of intensity of war games, while increasing their transparency, according to NATO’s chief spokesperson Oana Lungescu, who also urged Russia to implement its existing commitments.
The think tank also urged NATO and Russia to reach an agreement – the one similar to a pact between China and the U.S. – that would outline things to avoid, for example exercises near rival aircraft and vessels.
Such agreement would also set out timely warnings, radio frequencies and vocabulary of signals that would allow for broader and clearer communication between the two sides.
Russia’s March military drills involving 80,000 personnel were one of Moscow’s largest shows of military force since the beginning of tensions between Moscow and Washington in 2014.
NATO’s June military drills involving 15,000 armed forces of 22 member countries were held in eastern Europe and the Baltics.
The think tank also noted that NATO planned to conduct a total of 270 exercises in 2015, while Russia has announced as many as 4,000 drills across all levels.
NATO will hold its largest military drills in over a decade starting from October – the drills will be held in Spain, Italy and Portugal.
The former ministers’ report also noted that an “action-reaction cycle” is what we see between Russia and NATO, and that ‘cycle’ could be hard to stop.
“History is littered with examples of international crises and tensions that developed a momentum of their own and resulted in conflict even when no one side intended it,” the report said.
Russia is preparing for war against NATO – analysts
Earlier this month, the same think tank concluded that Russia is preparing for a war against the United States and its NATO allies.
The conclusion was reached as a result of an analysis of large-scale military drills by Russia in March and smaller military drills carried out by NATO in June.
However, spokesmen for both Russia and NATO have been repeatedly dismissing any war plans during their military exercises, and claimed that the military exercises were organized to practice military actions against “hypothetical opponents.”
It its report, the think tank said that the “nature and scale” of the military drills showed that “Russia is actively preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.”
U.S. appears to be NOT ready for war against Russia
The U.S. has held a series of secret military drills over the summer, the result of which left Washington defense officials worried that the nation is not prepared for a sustained war against Russia.
The U.S. military explained its lack of preparation to wage a war against Russia by the fact that the 15 years of counter terrorism warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan exhausted America.
In particular, U.S. forces would struggle to counter a possible Russia’s military attack on a NATO ally, as their ability to maintain logistics and troops levels have depleted due to the wars, defense officials noted.
“Could we probably beat the Russians today [in a sustained battle]? Sure, but it would take everything we had,” one defense official told The Daily Beast. “What we are saying is that we are not as ready as we want to be.”
U.S. risks losing its global dominance because of Russia
Does the U.S. have what it takes to counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s possible attack with a robust and powerful response?
And while not all Pentagon officials agree that it does, every defense officials in Washington agrees that Russia has nearly 4,000 nuclear weapons, the world’s third largest military budget and the president notorious for his unpredictability and growing appetite for gaining more territories.
Secret exercises codenamed ‘TTX’ (tabletop exercise) also revealed that in case of a snap Russian military attack on American soil, the U.S. forces would hesitate to give a rapid response, as its best-trained fighter pilots would have to be withdrawn from other conflict zones
And the problem with withdrawing U.S. fighters jets, pilots, surveillance drones and other advanced military equipment from other conflict zones is that the U.S. would risk losing its dominant positions in those conflict zones, according to defense officials.
Therefore, the U.S. cannot even properly test the real state of its military power and the ability of U.S. forces to counter Russia’s possible attack without losing its dominant positions in some parts of the world or even its global dominance.
Is it a risk Washington is willing to take?