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An undated handout photo provided by the Norwegian Army shows a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft over an unknown location during a military exercise. REUTERS/Norwegian NATO QRA Bod�/Handout
Image: Reuters/Norwegian NATO QRA Bod

Russia and West in 'dangerous brinkmanship'

November 10, 2014

A study has claimed that dangerous military incidents involving Russia and the West have occurred with greater frequency since the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict. Some of them could have caused deaths - or conflict.


The number of potentially dangerous military incidents involving Russia and the West has grown since the Ukraine crisis erupted early this year, a report by London-based think-tank European Leadership Network (ELN) said on Monday.

The report, entitled "Dangerous Brinkmanship - Close Military Enconcounters Between Russia and the West in 2014," listed a total of 45 incidents so far this year, including three classed as "high risk" and 11 others that were "serious incidents with escalation risk."

Among the most dangerous incidents listed was a near collision in early March between a Scandinavian airliner carrying 132 passengers and a Russian warplane that was flying covertly.

Swedish media reported that the two planes missed one another in the air by just 90 meters (300 feet), some 80 kilometers southeast of the Swedish city of Malmö. The Scandinavian Airlines Boeing 737 was flying from Copenhagen to Rome.

"A collision was apparently avoided thanks only to good visibiity and the alertness of the passenger plane pilots," the ELN report said, adding that the Russian reconnaissance plane had not transmitted its position.

The two other "high-risk" incidents were the alleged abduction of an Estonian security service operative by Russian agents from an Estonian border post on September 5, and the reports of "foreign underwater activity" off the Swedish coast last month, which triggered a large-scale maritime operation by Sweden.

Potential for escalation

The incidents that, according to the report, could have led to a military escalation included four cases of "harassment" of US and Swedish planes in international airspace by armed Russian fighters. Also mentioned were a mock attack by Russian planes on the heavily populated Danish island of Bornholm and the violation of Swedish airspace by Russian aircraft on a mock "bombing raid."

The report comes in the wake of comments by Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who on Saturday warned that the world was on the "brink of a new Cold War."

Map showing close military encounters between Russia and the West in 2014

The conflict in Ukraine, in which pro-Russian separatist rebels are in conflict with the country's military, has escalated tensions between Russia and West, with many in the West accusing Moscow of supporting the rebellion. Russia has since increased its air activity over Europe, causing NATO to step up its readiness to react.

tj/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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