Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday that the tense relationship between Moscow and the Western countries has begun a “new Cold War” in the world. His comments came as the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged Moscow to stop bombing in Syria while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia was destabilizing the European security order.
Medvedev criticized the increasing influence of NATO and the European Union in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War in 1991, and said that the sanctions against Moscow and new military activities near the Russian border “only aggravate” tensions between the two sides. Medvedev made the comments during the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. This year’s meet was also attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond.
“We can say it even more clearly: We have slid into a new period of Cold War,” Medvedev said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding: “Almost every day we are accused of making new horrible threats either against NATO as a whole, against Europe or against the US or other countries.”
Medvedev cited Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying during the 2007 Munich Security Conference that the development of a missile defense system by the West posed a risk of restarting the Cold War. Medvedev said, according to the Associated Press (AP) that “the picture is more grim; the developments since 2007 have been worse than anticipated,” adding: “NATO's policies related to Russia remain unfriendly and opaque — one could go so far as to say we have slid back to a new Cold War.”
Medvedev criticized the economic sanctions against Moscow that started after the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
“The longer the sanctions continue chances for the Europeans to keep their position at the Russian market as investors and suppliers are fading,” AP quoted Medvedev as saying. “That's why one has to act quickly.”
Meanwhile, Stoltenberg stressed the need to have dialogues but defended NATO’s moves in bolstering defenses, including moving more troops and equipment to the regions that lie on the border of Russia. He also said that member countries were also expected to “decide to further strengthen the alliance's defense and deterrence,” at an upcoming meeting in Warsaw.
“No one should think that nuclear weapons can be used as part of a conventional conflict — it would change the nature of any conflict fundamentally,” Stoltenberg said, according to AP.
Medvedev, on the other hand, called Stoltenberg's comment a suggestion that Moscow may use nuclear weapons in a first strike, and said: “Sometimes I wonder if it's 2016 or if we live in 1962.”