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Gates: Putin's Approach Reminiscent of Cold War
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US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday called for partnership between the United States and Russia to address global concerns such as terrorism.

"We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia," Gates told a security forum attracting senior officials from around the world. "One Cold War was quite enough."

On Saturday, Putin told delegates that the Bush administration had "overstepped its national borders in every way" through its "unilateral, illegitimate" actions. In a no-holds-barred speech, Putin also said US policy had incited other countries to develop nuclear weapons as defense against "almost uncontained use of military force".

In the fiercest criticism of Washington's policies during his seven years in office, Putin said America was destroying the international legal system by bypassing the United Nations and resorting to the unilateral use of force.

Washington's policies and whether they are fomenting a potential new Cold War has dominated the three-day gathering of 250 ministers, military and security officials from around the world.

Gates said Putin's speech had reminded him of the Cold War period, but that it was time to move on.

"Russia is a partner in endeavors," he said. "I think no one wants a new Cold War with Russia."

"But we also wonder about some Russian policies that seem to work against international stability, such as its arms transfers and its temptation to use energy resources for political coercion," he said.

Gates agreed that the war in Afghanistan was a test for NATO's ability to successfully overcome a major global challenge.

"The challenge posed by violent extremism today is unlike anything the West has faced in many generations," he said. "In many ways it is grounded in a profound alienation from the foundations of the modern world religious toleration, freedom of expression and equality for women."

Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defense committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, openly questioned whether the United States was seeking a new Cold War. Gates' comments to Congress last week, caused Ozerov's reaction, since the new US Defense Secretary stated the United States could not predict developments in places like Russia, North Korea, China and Iran, seemingly painting these states with the same brush.

Ozerov also mentioned the "Jackson-Vanick" amendment which restricts Russia-US relations. Imposed in 1974 to expedite the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union to Israel, Congress has not yet repealed this amendment for Russia although it has already done so for other former Soviet Union states.

"When you say that we have to adopt the values of the West, we are prepared to move to them but not all of them if such values say you can deliver military blows outside the resolutions of the UN Security Council," Ozerov said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov on Sunday further defended President Vladimir Putin's heavy accusation against the United States over NATO's expansion.

"I don't think Putin's remarks are aggressive," he told reporters at a press conference following the high-profile security conference.

Putin's remarks were simply a reminded that the United States is breaking promises it made a decade ago that NATO would not expand closer to Russian borders, said the minister.

Russia, for its part, has no intention of starting a second Cold War, he added.
Russia remains committed to the non-proliferation of arms, but the United States' military spending has increased exponentially since the Cold War, sparking grave concerns across the world, said the minister.

Other speakers also referred to Putin's remarks.

"None of us find it easy to switch from the Cold War phase to shared global responsibility," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

However, Steinmeier also delivered a jab to the United States. "Many in the US are now learning that democracy cannot be imposed by military force," he said.

The three-day Munich security meeting that ended Sunday focused on NATO's role, the Middle East peace process, transatlantic relations, the West's relations with Russia and the fight against international terrorism.

Putin Slams US Foreign Policy in Munich

(China Daily via agencies, Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2007)

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