News & Politics

Are Russia and NATO in a New 'Cold War'?

Are Russia and NATO in a New 'Cold War'?
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gestures during his speech on the podium at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Where’s that reset button when we need it?

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at a Munich security conference, said what everybody except President Obama and most of his administration already knew: that there is a new cold war between Russia and the West.


With tensions high over the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s backing of the Syrian regime, Medvedev said: “All that’s left is an unfriendly policy of NATO against Russia”.

“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.”

Medvedev criticised the expansion of NATO and EU influence deep into formerly Soviet-ruled eastern 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 said.

“Not a belt of friends but a belt of exclusion.”

He added that “creating trust is hard … but we have to start. Our positions differ, but they do not differ as much as 40 years ago when a wall was standing in Europe.”

Medvedev makes a good point about the difference between today and 40 years ago.  Back then, it was a struggle between civilizations – one free, the other enslaved.  And today, the points of convergence as far as Russia-NATO interests are concerned present an opportunity for cooperation.

But the collisions occur whenever President Vladimir Putin has decided to expand Russian influence.  Crimea, Ukraine, and now the Middle East and threats to the Baltic States and Eastern Europe make those issues where cooperation is possible difficult to negotiate.

A new cold war?  The potential for a hot war as a result of U.S. bungling or Russian miscalculation is higher than it’s been in decades.  Rather than worry about a standoff that could last far into the future, our immediate concerns should be the potential for military conflict between NATO and Russia in Ukraine and the Middle East.