Russian Russian SU-27 intercepts a formation of US Air Force aircraft, including the B-52H Stratofortress pictured here. Photo: US Department of Defense

Concerns of increasingly risky exchanges between NATO and Russian aircraft have risen in recent months to the point that they now loom large over NATO-Russia Council consultations.

Both Russia and NATO members are taking an “he started it” approach as fears of accidental air-to-air collision and escalation grow.

The Wall Street Journal quoted on Wednesday one NATO official as decrying the “unsafe and unprofessional behaviors by Russian pilots.” While Russian military expert Alexander Zhilin said on Russian television that NATO pilots “are conducting themselves simply like bandits.”

Zhilin’s comment was in response to footage which allegedly showed a Polish F-16 approaching a plane carrying the Russian defense minister:

Another recent confrontation came when Russian aircraft intercepted a formation of US Air Force aircraft, including two B-1B Lancers, a KC-135R Stratotanker and B-52H Stratofortress, captured in the photos in below video.