Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has slammed NATO’s “unfriendly” policies on Moscow, saying strained ties between the two sides have deteriorated into a “new Cold War” era.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Medvedev described NATO’s anti-Moscow policies as “unfriendly and not transparent.”
“We can say it even more clearly: We have slid into a new period of Cold War,” he said.
The Russian premier further criticized the NATO military buildup as well as EU attempts to increase its influence deep into formerly Soviet Union states in East Europe 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 asked, replying, “Not a belt of friends but a belt of exclusion.”
Earlier this week, NATO defense ministers agreed to a plan to beef up the Western military alliance’s presence in East Europe, citing perceived threats from Russia.
The initiative envisions a multinational force stationed in Eastern European members states of NATO on a rotational basis.
Russia has on many occasions slammed NATO’s military expansion near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Medvedev said Moscow is repeatedly facing accusations of making threats either against NATO, against Europe or against the US or other countries.
“Scary movies have been filmed where Russians begin a nuclear war. Sometimes I think: are we in 2016 or in 1962?” he asked.
Relations between Russia and NATO soured after the Crimean Peninsula separated from Ukraine and rejoined the Russian Federation following a referendum in March 2014.
The military alliance ended all practical cooperation with Russia over the ensuing crisis in Ukraine in April 2014.
The US and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the Ukrainian crisis.
‘Russia not targeting Syria civilians’
The Russian premier reiterated that his country is not pursuing any secret goals in Syria, dismissing accusations that Moscow’s air force is pounding civilian positions in its anti-terror campaign in Syria.
“There is no evidence of our bombing civilians, even though everyone is accusing us of this,” he said.
The remarks came hours after French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on Moscow to stop what he called bombing of civilians in Syria.
Russia launched the campaign against the Takfiri Daesh terrorists and other militant groups in Syria last September upon a request from the Damascus government. The air raids have expedited the advances of Syrian forces against militants.