EU’s Mogherini says no Cold War with Russia as Syria truce agreed
Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, speaks at the donors Conference for Syria in London, Britain February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

MOSCOW: The European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday there was no Cold War “climate” between Moscow and the West as they agreed to a pause in the fighting in Syria, although Russia’s prime minister warned of growing tension between his country and the West.

At an annual security conference in Munich on Friday, world powers agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” that would let humanitarian aid be delivered in Syria. But a day later Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the gathering that Moscow and the West had “fallen into a new Cold War”.

“I have not seen the climate of Cold War in these last days,” the EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini said before hosting EU foreign ministers in Brussels, when she was asked to comment on the Russian warning.

Mogherini said all the parties to the Syria agreement must stick to their commitments, a call echoed by Bert Koenders, the foreign minister of the Netherlands, which now hold the EU’s rotating presidency.

But Russia, the top international ally of Damascus, has yet to stop its air strikes, which are supporting the advance of Syrian government troops and allied militias on the country’s largest city, Aleppo.

Fresh hostilities have also broken out between Turkey and the Kurdish YPG militia since Munich. Turkey said it had fired retaliatory shots at the militia’s positions in Syria, prompting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to urge restraint even before the truce starts, which is due this week.

“As part of the Munich Agreement … all sides are called on – even before the start of a ceasefire – to contribute to an immediate reduction in violence,” Steinmeier said in Brussels.

“That goes for Russia and the Syrian regime’s military operations around Aleppo and the latest attacks by PYD militias in northern Syria. In view of the tense situation, Turkey too must show restraint.”

The war in Syria has killed at least 250,000 people and created a breeding ground for radical Islamists. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the rebels seeking to oust him, and the foreign backers of the rival sides have failed to agree on ways to end the conflict.

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