LONDON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- A report by a London think tank says the incidence of encounters by Russian military planes is at Cold War levels.
The European Leadership Network's report, released Monday, itemized nearly 40 close calls, passes at Western coastlines and military ships, and other "highly disturbing" cases of Russian air activity. The report came days after NATO said it noted increased activity of Russian fighter planes over European airspace.
"Since the Russian annexation of Crimea, the intensity and gravity of incidents involving Russian and Western militaries and security agencies has visibly increased. This ELN Policy Brief provides details of almost 40 specific incidents that have occurred over the last eight months. These events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a very wide geographical area," the report said.
It mentions an incident in March, when a Boeing 737 of Scandinavian Airlines, with 132 people aboard a flight from Copenhagen to Rome, took evasive action on takeoff when it encountered a Russian reconnaissance aircraft within 100 yards of it. Also included are documented claims by the U.S. military of Russian aircraft making passes at a U.S. military ship in the Black Sea in April, and the appearance of a Russian aircraft within 50 miles of the California coast in May.
NATO has reported over 100 interceptions of Russian aircraft in 2014, three times the number in 2013, which the report called "the first time since the end of the Cold War that Russia has been rather openly treating NATO and its partners as potential opponents, training accordingly and testing our defenses."