Kerry takes aim at Russia over Ukraine and Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is sharply criticizing Russia for its actions in Ukraine and Syria, accusing Moscow of "repeated aggression" in both places.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev talks of new Cold War

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry says sanctions on Russia will remain until the Minsk II agreement reached in February 2015 to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine is fully implemented. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is sharply criticizing Russia for its actions in Ukraine and Syria, accusing Moscow of "repeated aggression" in both places.

Speaking to the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Kerry said Russia is defying the will of the international community with its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and its military intervention in Syria on behalf of President Bashar Assad.

John Kerry, right, listens to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko prior to bilateral talks at the security conference in Munich. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press)

Kerry's comments came just after Russia's prime minister told the same conference that the West is rekindling the Cold War with sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine as well as new NATO moves.

He praised European nations for holding firm on the Ukraine sanctions and urged Moscow to act in good faith in forging a truce in Syria and allow a political transition.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev referred to the tensions between the West and his country and urged dialogue to build trust.

"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."

Russia's foreign minister on Saturday said coordination between the Russian and U.S. military is needed to make a truce in Syria work.

A scene of devastation is captured in Syria's Idlib province, where activists say the Russian air force carried out three consecutive airstrikes on Jan. 12, on the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan. (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

Sergey Lavrov said everyday military cooperation between those two countries in particular is "the key tool" to ensuring delivery of humanitarian supplies and an end to hostilities. He complained coordination hasn't gone beyond an agreement to avoid in-air incidents.

Lavrov said: "if we are moving closer to practical goals of [a] truce, then without cooperation between the military nothing will work out."

Pressed by conference moderator Wolfgang Ischinger to say how confident he is on a 1-100 scale that a "cessation of hostilities" will be implemented within a week as planned, Lavrov replied: "49." British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, sitting alongside Lavrov, said it sounded more like "somewhere close to zero."

A boy carries a baby in a site hit by what activists said were airstrikes carried out in January by the Russian air force in the town of Douma. Russian has been bombing Syria since September. (Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)

Ukraine's president said Russia is living in a "completely different universe" and is pointing to the risk of an "alternative Europe" led by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Petro Poroshenko, speaking Saturday at the Munich conference, blasted Russia's actions in Ukraine and Syria and said they are "a demonstration that we live in a completely different universe with Russia."

He said that the main danger to Europeans now is an "alternative Europe with alternative values" such as isolation, intolerance and disrespect of human rights. Poroshenko added: "This alternative Europe has its own leader. His name is Mr. Putin."


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