Since 2014 Relations between NATO and Russia are characterized by a new ice age. Their military activities have multiplied, Warships and fighter planes come dangerously close to each other, Ground troops face each other in the Baltics.
At the same time, arms control is eroding. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and the Vienna Document do not have a stabilizing effect in the geographical contact zones between Russia and NATO. Communication between them also no longer works. Accidents or misjudgments could lead to an unintentional armed conflict.
To prevent this, both sides should cooperate. To do this, we worked with a group of... 40 renowned experts from Russia, other European countries and the USA detailed practical measures worked out.
Security dialogue and military contacts between the two sides must be urgently restored. This requires more frequent meetings of their highest military representatives and regular expert discussions, to avoid misinterpretations.
About dangerous incidents on land, to prevent or de-escalate incidents at sea or in the air, New agreements could complement and improve existing practices.
Military stability measures are mainly in the far north, necessary in the Baltic Sea region and the Black Sea region. units, who operate near the border, must act particularly carefully. Constant connections should be ensured, that military movements on one side do not trigger overreactions on the other.
The transparency of military exercises should be increased. To do this, the troops involved must be fully recorded and the thresholds of the Vienna Document for their advance information and observation lowered.
To prevent misinterpretations of Russian alarm exercises as preparations for an attack, “Silent” advance communications could be agreed to the highest commanders, without warning the troops involved in advance. NATO could also confidentially inform Russia about unannounced movements of multinational associations.
In opposite areas, NATO and Russia should limit the continued stationing of substantial combat troops. To do this, the provisions of the NATO-Russia Founding Act must be adhered to 1997 be concretized. They could be limited to one combat brigade and one group of fighter aircraft per country and military district.
Military activities there should be subject to strict information- and subject to verification regimes. However, the capacity for legitimate individual and collective defense must be preserved and the isolation of individual regions or countries must be avoided.
The “Open Skies” Treaty has been weakened by the withdrawal of the USA. Russia and other European contracting states should preserve it as an important instrument of military transparency and persuade the USA to return.
Also when stationing and moving land, see- or air-launched cruise missiles and new long-range systems, the alliance and Russia should establish transparency and maintain restraint.
They should also discuss missile defense again. They could consider annual information exchanges on current and planned defense systems in Europe, to strengthen trust.
However, we did not agree on the causes of the security crisis in Europe. We therefore do not recommend, to return to the political agenda as it was before the crisis. But together we want to reduce the risks of a military confrontation, to avert an existential threat. If this succeeds, This can also create a more positive atmosphere, to discuss the more fundamental problems, that separate us.