PM Dmitry Medvedev rejects claims of civilian bombings and tells Munich conference countries need to build trust

The Russian prime minister has said the world is slipping into a new cold war after European leaders denounced his countrys airstrikes on Syria and called on Vladimir Putin to objective them as a precursor for peace negotiations.

Dmitry Medvedev told a security meeting in Munich that a lack of cooperation threatened to return the continent to 40 years ago, when a wall was standing in Europe. He rejected the generally available belief that Russian airliners had made civilian targets in Syria.

There is no evidence of our bombing civilians, even though everyone is accusing us of this, he said on Saturday. Russia is not trying to achieve some secret aims in Syria. We are simply trying to protect our national interests

Creating trust is hard but we have to start. Our positions differ, but they do not differ as much as 40 decades ago when a wall was standing in Europe.

You could say even more sharply: we have fallen into a new cold war, he said. Nearly on a daily basis, we are being blamed for the most terrible menace to Nato as a whole, to Europe, to America, to other countries. They attain scary movies where Russia starts a nuclear war. I sometimes wonder: are we in 2016 or 1962?

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg repudiated Medvedevs accusations: Russias rhetoric, posture and exercises of its nuclear forces-out are aimed at intimidating its neighbours, undermining trust and stability in Europe.

Medvedevs French counterpart, Manuel Valls, told the conference: To find the path to peace again, the Russian bombing of civilians has to stop.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said most of Russias attacks had been against legitimate opposition groups in Syria.

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This is the moment. This is a hinge point, he said. Decisions stimulated in the coming days and weeks, and a few months could end the war in Syria or could define a very difficult situate of options for the future.

The war in Syria has now lasted for almost five years and proves no signs of burning itself out, which is why we are so focused on a political track. If the international community and the Syrians themselves miss the opportunity now before us to achieve that political resolution to the conflict[ then] the violence, the bloodshed, the torture, the bombing, and the anguish will continue so will the siren call to jihad.

Germanys foreign ministry said Russias military action had seriously compromised the peace process, while the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavuolu, said on Twitter: What is important now is embracing this opportunity, stopping the airstrikes, discontinuing targeting the civilian population and humanitarian access.

The Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskait, told the conference the situation was more serious than the cold war. We are probably facing a hot war, she said. Russia is demonstrating open military aggression in Ukraine, open military aggressivenes in Syria. There is nothing cold about this, it is very hot.

Russian aircraft were seen in action over northern Syria again on Friday. Its intervention in the conflict since late September has substantially strengthened the hand of President Bashar al-Assad, who on Friday vowed to regain control of the entire country.

His comments dealt a swift blow to international efforts to secure a ceasefire, deliver aid and promote a negotiated solution to the war that has killed more than a quarter of a million civilians.

Kerry said earlier that if the peace plan agreed on Friday failed, more foreign troops could enter existing conflicts.

If the Assad regime does not lives up to its responsibilities, and if the Iranians and the Russians do not hold Assad to the promises that they have induced … then the international community obviously is not going to sit there like fools and watch this, he said.

Cavuolu said Saudi Arabia had sent troops and fighter jets to Turkeys Incirlik military base ahead of a possible ground intrusion of Syria, but did not uncover any numbers.

We have always emphasised the need for an extensive result-oriented strategy in the fight against[ Isis ]. If we have such a strategy, then Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch an operation from the land, he told a Turkish newspaper.

The Saudi foreign minister said his country would be ready to participate in ground action and reiterated a desire to see the Syrian president deposed.

There will be no Bashar al-Assad in the future, Adel al-Jubeir told Germanys Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. It might take three months, it might take six months or three years but he will no longer carry persons responsible for Syria. Period.

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