MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia are bracing for a possible military confrontation, a European defense think-tank policy analysis revealed Wednesday.
“Russia is preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia,” the European Leadership Network (ELN) brief stated.
The London-based institute cited two major military exercises conducted this year as grounds for its prognosis.
NATO held Allied Shield drills involving 15,000 personnel from 19 member states in a number of Eastern European nations in June. These included Trident Joust in Romania, BALTOPS, Saber Strike and Noble Jump – NATO’S first Very High Readiness Joint Task Force deployment – in Poland.
In March, 80,000 Russian troops and thousands of units of equipment took part in nationwide snap combat readiness inspections.
The think-tank stopped short of suggesting an explicit decision has been reached, or that Russia-NATO conflict was inevitable, but said the changed profile of exercises is a “fact” that feeds into ongoing geopolitical tensions.
“These tensions are further aggravated and elevated into a sense of unpredictability when the exercises are not pre-notified or publicly announced beforehand,” the think-tank noted.
The ELN recommended a four-step pathway toward alleviating simmering tensions, including boosting NATO-Russia communication, examining drills in border areas, utilizing OSCE and Soviet-era confidence building measures channels. Additionally, the institute proposed the adoption of a new conventional arms control treaty.
Russia’s relations with the United States, the European Union and other Western states deteriorated sharply in the wake of the Ukrainian conflict, as well as NATO’s continuous eastward expansion.
Moscow has repeatedly claimed that NATO's increased activities near its borders undermine regional stability.