October 6, 2016

Workshop on Avoidance of Hazardous Military Incidents

On 21-22 September 2016, Kalev Stoicescu represented ICDS in a workshop on Avoidance of Hazardous Military Incidents (AHMI) organized by the European Leadership Network. AHMI (in the air space and at sea, in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea areas, but also elsewhere) has become a „hot“ topic since Russia has proposed in the NATO-Russia Council in July 2016, and thereafter actively promoted the idea of „turning on transponders“ (of military aircraft).

Over the past years the risk of HMIs with serious/escalatory consequences in the Baltic Sea area has increased due to:

  • Frequent flights by Russian military aircraft with switched-off transponders (allegedly, some don’t even have transponders), sometimes also without prior notification of flight routes;
  • Violations by Russian military aircraft of the sovereign air space of other nations (e.g. frequent “cuts” through the Estonian air space above the Vaindloo Island in the Gulf of Finland);
  • Politically motivated provocative behavior (e.g. Russian aircraft harassed USS Donald Cook both in the Black Sea, and the Baltic Sea international waters; also harassment of civilian research ships by Russian Baltic Fleet vessels);
  • Large scale no-notice (snap) combat control exercises in the Russian Western Military District, in the Baltic Sea and in border areas of NATO allies, with clearly offensive scenarios.

The risk of air incidents is of great concern also to the civil aviation, and therefore ICAO is addressing these issues, as well.
While the NATO-Russian cooperation in the NRC framework is frozen, AHMI issues could and should be addressed either in ICAO or in the context of the OSCE. In addition, relevant bilateral agreements between Russia and NATO allies that were concluded in the Cold War period could be further implemented.

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