Russia warns of new Cold War as east Ukraine violence surges and the U.S. is outmaneuvered in Syria

The Washington Post reports: Violence in eastern Ukraine is intensifying and Russian-backed rebels have moved heavy weaponry back to the front line, international monitors warned Saturday, as Moscow responded by accusing the West of dragging the world back 50 years.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described East-West relations as having “fallen into a new Cold War” and said NATO was “hostile and closed” toward Russia, in the latest sign that peace efforts have made scant progress almost two years since Moscow annexed Crimea.

“I sometimes wonder — are we in 2016 or 1962?” Medvedev asked in a speech to the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Western governments say they have satellite images, video and other evidence to show that Russia is providing weapons to the Ukrainian rebels and that Moscow has troops engaged in the conflict. Russia denies such accusations. [Continue reading…]

The Observer reports: Moscow is back as a big player in the Middle East, while Washington looks humbled, a shadow of the great power that once dominated events in the region. The cold war is back, as the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, said on Saturday – and for now Russia seems to be in the ascendancy.

Critics warned from the day the ceasefire was announced that Moscow had outmaneuvered Washington and was simply using the negotiations and the deal to consolidate gains, a tactic honed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

The US may have lost more than political capital. The ceasefire risks costing them the trust of the few moderate opposition groups left on the ground, who feel abandoned by a country that promised support.

“The people that the Americans had been trying to sponsor are now targets of an enemy that bombs without mercy or discretion, and the Americans don’t have a problem with that?” said one Free Syrian Army member in Aleppo, who declined to be named. “They never deserved our trust.”

Russia, by contrast, has doubled down on Assad. Around the time Lavrov was handing down his grim prognosis for the ceasefire, a missile cruiser left the naval base in Sevastopol in Crimea. It was heading towards the Mediterranean to join the Russian fleet there, a public shoring up of an already strong military presence. Refugees who had recently fled Isis rule said that the failure to challenge Assad and Russia could even put the west’s main goal in Syria – the routing of Isis – at risk. If other opposition groups are driven out, it will shore up the claim of Isis to be champions of the country’s Sunnis. “You will not find anyone in this camp, especially those who have arrived this month, who supports Isis,” said the man, who gave his name only as Jameel. “But most of them accept that at least they tried to protect us, Syrian Sunnis, who the world has abandoned. It is very dangerous to let them fill this role. And I think the world is blind to the immorality of it.” [Continue reading…]

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