A group of experts has urged Russia and the West to re-learn some Cold War lessons on confrontation management between nuclear states. The European Leadership Network (ELN) has called for urgently restarting dialogue via NATO-Russia Council to prevent an accidental conflict.
The two sides should set guidelines for exercises
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Both sides have increased the number of military exercises in recent months. NATO is set to conduct its largest military drills in decades in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, Russia is on track to hold 4,000 military exercises in 2015. The exercises and encounters have increased the risk of an unintended clash. Relations between the two sides have sunk to the Cold War level amid the Ukraine crisis.
The NATO-Russia Council was suspended after Moscow annexed Crimea last year. The group said the council should be reconvened. NATO and Russia should also sign an agreement on the guidelines for exercises along the lines of an agreement signed last year between the U.S. and China. The guidelines would require clearer procedures for communications, and better warning of live weapons firing to be conducted close to the other side’s forces.
A NATO-Russia conflict highly likely in current scenario
Established in 2002, the NATO-Russia Council helped alleviate tensions between the two sides. It led to nuclear non-proliferation initiatives, joint military drills, and cooperation in Afghanistan. However, NATO has set up military bases close to the Russian borders in recent months. Moscow has flown its fighter jets close to the British, Swedish and U.S. airspace.
The European Leadership Network director Ian Kearns said the danger of an unintended clash in the current situation was real. He said the resumption of the dialogue was likely to face opposition from some NATO members such as the Baltic states and Eastern Europe. Estonia’s ambassador to the UK, Lauri Bambus, recently said the behavior of Russia makes any dialogue “unlikely in the near future.” Bambus warned that any such move would be dangerous for Europe.