War between the West and Russia has nearly broken out 66 times in the last 18 months, with each side just minutes away from attacking each other, experts have revealed.
Both sides have kept their cool and restrain, but experts are urging new rules on military exercises to be formed, after the high number of “close military encounters” since Marsh last year.
In a report published by the European Leadership Network (ELN), the ministers warned: “The situation is ripe with potential for either dangerous miscalculation or an accident that could trigger a worsening of the crisis or even a direct military confrontation.”
It comes after the think tank warned Russia is “actively preparing for a conflict with Nato”.
Nato and Russia have since intensified their large-scale military exercises “with war plans in mind”, recent research suggests.
Nato forces are planning approximately 270 exercises this year, according to an ELN study – while Russia has announced a staggering 4,000 drills.
Last month, Moscow warned that the US-led Rapid Trident military exercises in western Ukraine could have “explosive consequences”.
US and Ukrainian troops had launched exercises involving 1,800 soldiers from 18 countries in July to boost the morale of armed forces involved in the ongoing conflict against pro-Russian separatists.
But in a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry claimed the drills are “a clear demonstration of NATO’s provocative policy to unequivocally support the policies of current Kiev authorities in eastern Ukraine”.
It said: “Not only is NATO not ready to recognise the wrongness and possible explosive consequences of holding such drills but it is considerably increasing their scope.
“These actions… may threaten to disrupt the visible progress in the peace process concerning the deep internal crisis in Ukraine.”
The Kremlin’s increased military exercises have put NATO forces on high alert, with numerous near-misses taking place between military planes.
A Russian jet came just feet from crashing into a US military jet in May, while RAF jets were scrambled to intercept 10 Russian military planes in Baltic airspace last month.
Director of ELN Ian Kearns said 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.”