"In the past weeks and months we have continually noticed dangerous 'encounters', be it in airspace or at sea, between military aircraft and ships of the Russian Federation on one side and those of Western nations on the other. It is dangerous, very dangerous, it could cause misunderstandings or faulted calculations and could involuntarily lead to military escalation," Ischinger stressed.
Russia and the West must reach an agreement, as soon as possible, which would stipulate that planes and ships maintain a certain "mandatory distance" and not approach each other, Ischinger added, emphasizing that "both sides need to urgently think of measures that would ensure transparency."
"There should be a transparent information exchange on who is flying where. We need stability and predictability in Europe, we do not need surprises, we need trust and transparency in the military sphere," the security conference chairman reiterated.
Meanwhile Russia's Defense Ministry has repeatedly stated that all Russian Air Force flights are carried out in strict accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace over neutral waters, and do not violate the borders of other states.
Relations between Russia and NATO have gone downhill since the start of the Ukrainian conflict. The alliance accuses Russia of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs — a claim that Russia has repeatedly denied. Russia has also expressed concern over NATO's increasing military presence along its borders.