Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that relations between Russia and the West have evolved into a “new Cold War.”
“NATO’s policy with regard to Russia has remained unfriendly and opaque. One could go as far as to say that we have slid back to a new Cold War,” he told the audience at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. “Almost on an everyday basis we are called one of the most terrible threats either to NATO as a whole or to Europe, or to the United States.”
Relations between the two deteriorated after Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea in March 2014.
“Sometimes I wonder if this is 2016 or 1962,” added Medvedev.
NATO holds a different opinion.
“We at NATO do not want to see a Cold War,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, told CNN, adding,
We do not talk about it. It’s not what we want to happen or anticipate to happen. … We’re a defensive alliance who are arraying ourselves to face a challenge … [from] a nation that has once again decided it will use force to change internationally recognized borders and so we take those appropriate actions to be able to assure, defend and deter.
After Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in mid-March, NATO nations expressed concern over sovereignty and national security. Two Russian officials were concerned about treatment of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Estonia and Latvia, both of which belong to NATO and the European Union. Russia issued several warnings to Sweden and Finland, since both countries voiced an interest in NATO since Russia, which borders Finland, performed military exercises near the border.
On June 9, 2014, Russia announced preparations to act if NATO increases presence near its borders. In 1997, NATO agreed not to build permanent bases in Eastern Europe if Russia did not violate another country’s sovereignty.
Medvedev claimed the West abandoned the agreement after the end of World War II. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Russia violated this agreement due to aggression towards Ukraine, which includes the Crimea annexation.
Then-NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen admitted in June 2014 that Russia considers NATO an enemy.
“We must adapt to the fact that Russia now considers us its adversary,” he said.
Former Georgian Prime Minister and representative to NATO Ambassador Grigol Mgaloblishvili told Breitbart News that “Russia intends to cripple much of Eastern Europe to maintain it in a state of constant chaos.”
“The main objective of Russia is to regain its sphere of influence over the post-Soviet states,” he said in a 2014 interview. “After violating international law, after invading and occupying territories of European nations and violating the basics principles and consensuses of the post-Cold War order, Moscow has not paid any political price.”
The situation worsened after Russia began airstrikes in Syria on September 30, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama allegedly held a “very constructive” meeting for 90 minutes.
Russia has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s top ally since the civil war broke out four years ago, with Iran close behind. Since then, radical Islamic groups, such as the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), control a large portion of Syria and Iraq. While the world agrees on the need to destroy ISIS, the majority disagree with Russia and Iran about Assad. They demand he remain in power.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has insisted the forces will target places occupied by ISIS. However, the attacks allegedly hit areas held by groups opposing Assad in Homs and Hama provinces. Local opposition groups say that the planes hit Zafaraneh, Rastan, and Talbiseh, which do not house ISIS.
On November 24, Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border after it allegedly violated Turkey’s airspace. This has led to elevated tensions between the NATO country and Russia. Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused each other of purchasing oil from the Islamic State.
Medvedev insisted the West must “cooperate with Russia on common interests such as fighting terrorism and ensuring stability in the Middle [E]ast-or face a permanent, global conflict.”
“Do we really need a third global shake-up to realize the importance of cooperation rather than confrontation?” he asked.