On Wednesday a London-based think tank said war games by NATO and Russia increase the possibility of “dangerous military encounters” and war on the European continent.

According to Ian Kearns, director of the London-based European Leadership Network, war games and military preparation “are contributing to a climate of mistrust” that has “on occasion become the focal point for some quite close encounters between the NATO and Russian militaries.”

“While spokespeople may maintain that these operations are targeted against hypothetical opponents, the nature and scale of them indicate otherwise: Russia is preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia,” Kearns said.

NATO and Russia have conducted huge military exercises since the coup in Ukraine.

The report highlights two: NATO’s “Allied Shield” exercise in June and Russia’s “snap exercise” held in March that involved 80,000 military personnel.

“These tensions are further aggravated and elevated into a sense of unpredictability when the exercises are not pre-notified or publicly announced beforehand, as is apparently the case with a number of Russian exercises,” the report states.

Numerous “near encounters” have occurred, including a narrowly-avoided collision between an airliner and a Russian aircraft near Copenhagen.

The encounters reveal “the fact that both NATO and Russia have moved significant air assets into closer proximity to each other,” according to Dangerous Brinkmanship, a report issued in November by the European Leadership Network.

“It is also worrying that military deployments and exercises along the joint NATO-Russia border proceed on what appears to be a self-perpetuating cycle of action-reaction.”

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