from the same-conflicts,-different-century dept.
Arthur Bright reports in the Christian Science Monitor that the European Leadership Network has chronicled some 40 incidents over the past eight months, saying that Russian forces seem to have been authorized to act in a much more aggressive way. "Russian armed forces and security agencies seem to have been authorized and encouraged to act in a much more aggressive way towards NATO countries, Sweden and Finland" in a way that "increases the risk of unintended escalation and the danger of losing control over events," ELN warns.
The report cites three incidents in particular as having "high probability of causing casualties or a direct military confrontation between Russia and Western states." The first occurred in March, when a passenger flight out of Copenhagen, Denmark, had a near miss with a Russian surveillance plane that did not transmit its position. The second was the capture of an Estonian border agent by Russian security in September. The report also summarizes a incident last month where Swedish naval patrols undertook a broad search for what was widely speculated to be a Russian submarine in the Stockholm archipelago. The New York Times writes that the report adds credence to former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev's comments over the weekend, during the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, that the world seems "on the brink of a new cold war." Mr. Gorbachev warned that “Bloodshed in Europe and the Middle East against the backdrop of a breakdown in dialogue between the major powers is of enormous concern.”
The report has three main recommendations: The Russian leadership should urgently re-evaluate the costs and risks of continuing its more assertive military posture, and Western diplomacy should be aimed at persuading Russia to move in this direction; All sides should exercise military and political restraint; All sides must improve military-to-military communication and transparency. "To perpetuate a volatile stand-off between a nuclear armed state and a nuclear armed alliance and its partners in the circumstances described in this paper is risky at best. It could prove catastrophic at worst."