Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said his country is in a new cold war with the US and its allies, while NATO’s chief said Russia is using its nuclear arsenal to intimidate Europe. The clash, with echoes of superpower rhetoric during the 20th century, played out at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday even as Russia, Europe and the US say they’re seeking to end Syria’s civil war, resolve the armed standoff in eastern Ukraine and make progress towards lifting
European economic sanctions against Russia.
“The political line of NATO towards Russia remains unfriendly and closed,” Medvedev said in a speech to the conference. “It can be said more sharply: We have slid into a time of a new cold war.”
While Medvedev renewed Russian accusations of encirclement by western powers, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, challenged President Vladimir Putin to stop threatening nations around Russia’s borders with warnings about his nuclear-weapons capability. “Russia’s rhetoric, posture and exercises of its nuclear forces are aimed at intimidating its neighbors, undermining trust and stability in
Europe,” Stoltenberg told the conference earlier. “We strive for a more
constructive and more cooperative
relationship with Russia.”
NATO on Wednesday approved new reinforcements for eastern Europe, including stepped-up troop rotations on its eastern flanks and more naval patrols in the Baltic Sea. In response, the Kremlin dismissed the alliance’s argument that the move was merely defensive. “It’s important to avoid escalation between our forces,” said Stoltenberg.