Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev said on Saturday he feared Russia and the West were spiraling into another Cold War.
“NATO’s political stance toward Russia remains unfriendly and isolated,” he said at an international security conference in Munich, Germany. “One can say even more harshly, we have slid into the times of a new Cold War.”
Except the two sides didn’t “slid” into anything. Nor, as Medvedev suggested, is the tension due to an unfriendly Western attitude. If there is a new Cold War, it is Russia alone that must be blamed.
Given Russia’s flagrant violations of the postwar order in Europe, the West’s response has if anything been remarkably restrained.
Threats in Europe
In the last two years, Russia has annexed territory from and fueled insurrection in a neighboring state — and lied about it — supplied sophisticated weaponry to amateur insurgents to shoot down a commercial jet and constantly menaced the airspace of other nations, including with military planes flying without their transponders on at the risk of midair collisions with other aircraft.
It has also threatened to station nuclear missiles in Kaliningrad, on the border with NATO member states Lithuania and Poland, when the United States under Barack Obama have made every effort to reduce atomic arsenals left over from the (first) Cold War.
Russia is funding political parties and activities in the West that have fallen for its propaganda. Yet it has banned most foreign charities and pro-democracy groups from its own territory. The ones that remain are constantly harassed. So are diplomats from NATO countries.
The West has done nothing of the kind. Indeed, it has barely protested Russia’s clampdown on what it now calls “foreign agents”.
Outside Europe, Russia has thrown its support behind the murderous dictatorship of Bashar Assad in Syria when the Unites States and other countries were already carrying out airstrikes against Islamist militants in that country. It is coordinating its bombardments only haphazardly with the American-led coalition.
As in Ukraine, Russia has been lying about its intentions: claiming to fight “terrorists” in Syria when it has actually ignored the more fanatical opposition to Assad and targeted those rebels who could conceivably one day present an alternative to him.
Shocking then that the West’s “political stance” toward Russia has been so “unfriendly” of late.