World slides into new Cold War, says Russian Prime Minister

Russian prime minister accuses western countries of causing 'new Cold War'

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 13, 2016.

At the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev said that the dispute between Russia and the West has pushed the world into a “new Cold War.”

Medvedev accused NATO of its unfriendly policy against Russia over its raised tensions in Ukraine and in Syria.

"We can say it even more clearly: We have slid into a new period of Cold War," he said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

"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."

The prime minister criticised NATO and the European Union over their influence on former Soviet-ruled eastern European countries, since the end of the Cold War.

"European politicians thought that creating a so-called belt of friends at Europe's side, on the outskirts of the EU, could be a guarantee of security, and what's the result?" he said. "Not a belt of friends but a belt of exclusion."

Former Soviet countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the EU in 2004 while other states, such as Bulgaria and Romania -which had close relations with Moscow- joined the EU in 2007.

Medvedev said that creating trust will be difficult, but it should be initiated, referring the "shining example" of the historic meeting of Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill in Cuba.

“Our positions differ, but they do not differ as much as 40 years ago when a wall was standing in Europe," he said.

Medvedev added that "in the 1960s we were on the brink of nuclear apocalypse, but the two enemy sides understood that no conflict of political systems was worth the lives of people."

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, vowed to combine a firm stance against Russia with more dialogue.

"We have seen a more assertive Russia, a Russia which is destabilising the European security order," he said.

"NATO does not seek confrontation and we don't want a new Cold War. At the same time our response has to be firm."

In 2008, Russia was in an armed conflict with pro-Western Georgia –also a former Soviet country-, which also wanted to join the EU and NATO. The armed conflict was due to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, becoming two "breakaway provinces" in Georgia.

Moscow also occupied Crimea in 2014 by supporting pro-Russian rebels against Ukraine and sought to have presence in the Baltic Sea.

Stoltenberg said that "Russia's rhetoric, posture and exercises of its nuclear forces are aimed at intimidating its neighbours, undermining trust and stability in Europe."

Moscow decided to launch air strikes on September 30, 2015 in Syria, against DAESH terrorist organisation and to back Syrian regime leader, Bashar al Assad, that led to the killing of up to 300,000 people and resulted in tens of millions to flee to other countries.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Russian air stikes have killed over 1,000 civilians in Syria.

TRTWorld and agencies