Like a game of Risk, Russia and NATO have not only been suspiciously eying each other in recent months, but also conducting military exercises in border areas that the Washington Post says are making Europe "a region of high military drama." Now a UK-based think tank is warning that these war games could lead to real conflict if they don't start communicating and scaling down their activities, the Guardian reports. The European Leadership Network says that although reps from both sides may insist these training exercises—including a flurry of activity in March for Russia and in June for NATO, per the Post—are against hypothetical opponents, it's clear there are definite foes in mind, and that alleviative measures need to take place ASAP to stave off a possible confrontation.
"Russia is preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia," the report asserts, adding that even though this doesn't make a real conflict unavoidable, it helps perpetuate tension in the region—especially thick since the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The organization's recommendation: Tamp down the size and scale of said exercises, start hammering out a new treaty on limiting the types of weapons used along the borders, and publicly announce beforehand when exercises are being held (Russia is pointed out as a prime offender in this regard). But a NATO rep told Bloomberg that the ELN report "misleadingly puts NATO and Russian exercises on par" and that "the scale and scope of Russia's exercises are far beyond anything the alliance is doing. Russia is deliberately avoiding military transparency and predictability." (NATO's got its hands full with ISIS, too.)