The increase in the scale and number of military exercises being undertaken by NATO and Russia is making armed conflict in Europe more likely, a think tank warned Wednesday.
Ian Kearns, director of the London-based European Leadership Network, told The Associated Press that the war games “are contributing to a climate of mistrust” that have “on occasion become the focal point for some quite close encounters between the NATO and Russian militaries.”
Kearns is one of the co-authors of an ELN study, which looked in detail at two military exercises held this year by Russia and NATO and found signs that “Russia is preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.”
The exercises, according to the ELN, “can feed uncertainty” and heighten the risk of “dangerous military encounters.”
Relations between Russia and the West have been in the deep freeze since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year. The ELN study said NATO plans approximately 270 exercises this year, while Russia has announced 4,000 drills at all levels.