A new report from the independent organisation European Leadership Network has revealed there have been three 'high-risk incidents' among 40 confrontations between the West and the Russian military over the past eight months, and that one of them was a Russian plane's near-collision with an SAS airliner earlier this year just south of Copenhagen.
The report, entitled 'Dangerous Brinkmanship' (a term born from the Cold War referring to the escalation of threats in order to achieve one's aim), revealed that the incident, which took place in March and involved a SAS airliner coming within 90 metres of a Russian reconnaissance aircraft that did not transmit its position, could easily have been catastrophic for the 132 passengers on board the SAS flight from Copenhagen to Rome.
“A collision was apparently avoided thanks only to good visibility and the alertness of the passenger plane pilots,” the report stated.
“Had these two planes collided with a major loss of civilian life comparable to the tragedy of the MH17 over eastern Ukraine, the result would almost certainly have been a new round of western sanctions on Russia and increased patrolling of the North Sea.”
Bornholm 'attack' also listed
The other two 'high risk' incidents were the heavily-covered hunt for a Russian submarine near Stockholm and the apparent kidnapping of an Estonian intelligence officer in September.
Another incident featuring Denmark, which was classified as one of eleven 'serious incidents with an escalation risk', involved armed Russian aircraft approaching Bornholm in June before breaking off in what was described as a simulated attack.
The European Leadership Network report (here in English) has been published just days after Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, warned that the world was on the brink of another Cold War.
High-risk incidents are shown with red tags. Serious incidents are shown in yellow. Near-routine incidents are shown in blue. Miscellaneous incidents are shown in green.