The Old Cold War Never Got Far Out Of The Deep Freeze

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The old Cold War never got far out of the deep freeze

Rewind to February last year, when Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was speaking at an international security conference in Munich.
He told the room crowded with diplomats and dignitaries that “NATO’s policy with regards to Russia remains unfriendly and opaque … one could go as far as to say that we have slid back to a new cold war.”
At the time, Russia’s leadership was reacting to sanctions imposed following their annexation of Crimea and incursion in to eastern Ukraine and to NATO bolstering its forces in case Russian troops kept moving west.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe at the time, Philip Breedlove, who was attending the conference, told me later Russia was to blame.
“They have occupied Ukraine and built a bubble [defense] in the Black Sea and now [we] see a defense bubble developing in northern Syria,” Breedlove said.
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NATO, he said, was merely responding to Russian aggression.
Fast forward to today and the Kremlin is under pressure again.
US President Donald Trump flexed his muscles in Syria with a missile strike in response to a chemical attack, precisely the powerful message that gets through to Putin. Putin’s response brings the Cold War quote out of the deep freeze again.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Putin “the relation is at a low point” between their two countries. The reality is the relationship has been heading this way since long before Tillerson took over at Foggy Bottom.
Putin’s KGB roots and his schooling in Soviet ideology and propaganda have predisposed him to seeing the West as a predator, not an ally.
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