Russia PM: ‘We have slid into cold war’

Fall of the Berlin WallImage copyright

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The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolised the end of the Cold War

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said strains between Russia and the West have pushed the world “into a new cold war”.

“On an almost daily basis, we are being described the worst threat – be it to Nato as a whole, or to Europe, America or other countries,” Mr Medvedev said.

He cited Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg’s speeches and films depicting Russia starting a nuclear war.

“Sometimes I wonder if this is 2016 or 1962,” Mr Medvedev said.

The Cold War was a period of ideological confrontation between the former Soviet Union and Western countries. It began after World War Two and ended with the collapse of the Soviet-led communist camp in the 1989.

The 45 years of tension were marked by espionage and proxy wars involving client states – all undertaken with the knowledge or fear of the nuclear catastrophe that actual war would bring.

The Nato alliance was established in 1949 to protect Western countries.

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Russia has recently come under strong criticism over its air strikes in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and over its role in neighbouring Ukraine, which culminated with the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

In an interview with the BBC at the same Munich conference, Mr Stoltenberg said Russia had changed borders by force and had become more assertive – and that Nato had to be able to respond to threats.

“We are not in a cold-war situation, but also not in the partnership that we established at the end of the Cold War,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

Nato, he said, did not want an escalation, but enhanced political dialogue with Russia.

Early this month, the BBC broadcast a programme entitled World War Three: Inside the War Room, which imagines a hypothetical Russian attack on its Baltic neighbours – Nato members – and nuclear confrontation.

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