Accidental conflict is ‘true danger of Russia-West clash’

Accidental conflict is ‘true danger of Russia-West clash’ (Source AFP) Military posturing and increasingly hostile rhetoric between Russia and the West are raising the risk of an accidental slide towards a wider conflict that neither nuclear-armed side wants, experts warn. “I think it is seriously dangerous. There is a genuine misreading of the other side’s intentions, I think on both sides, but especially from Russia,” said Kadri Liik, a Russia expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “There is a real danger that Russia will respond to an attack that happens only in its own head. They would retaliate in the real world.” Relations between Western powers and Moscow have plummeted to their lowest point since the depths of the Cold War over the Russian annexation of Crimea and its political backing for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. For Jeffrey Mankoff, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, the tension raises the possibility for miscalculation and accidents. What concerns him is the talk from some Russian analysts about limited use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield as well as President Vladimir Putin’s recent reminders that Moscow is a nuclear power. From a Russian perspective, the West’s involvement in a region that used to be under Soviet sway is not innocent, experts said. In fact in Moscow’s view, it was the West that fomented the uprising that forced Ukraine’s pro-Russian president from power last year. Accordingly, Putin’s announcement about adding to Russia’s nuclear missile arsenal was a logical response to the American plans to send heavy military equipment to Eastern Europe, said Dmitry Orlov, the pro-Kremlin director of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications.

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