Russia 'Not Afraid' of a New Cold War

Russian President: We don't want a new Cold War, but we're not afraid either.

ByABC News
August 26, 2008, 3:08 PM

MOSCOW, Aug 26, 2008 — -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking in the midst of one of the lowest points in the Russia-West relationship since the breakup of the Soviet Union 17 years ago, said Tuesday that his country did not seek a new Cold War — but neither was it afraid of one.

"We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War," Medvedev was quoted as saying Tuesday by the ITAR-Tass news agency. "But we don't want it and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners."

The statement comes hours after Medvedev recognized the independence of two Georgian rebel provinces, defying the West. The recognition — which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described as "extremely unfortunate" — follows a short but intense war with Western-allied Georgia earlier this month.

"If they want to preserve good relations with Russia in the West, they will understand the reason behind our decision," Medvedev said.

Medvedev said that he had signed a decree on the decision to recognize the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Few other nations are likely to follow the move.

Rice said the United States continued to regard both breakaway regions as "part of the internationally recognized borders of Georgia."

Speaking in Texas, White House spokesman Tony Fratto on Tuesday said Russia is making a number of "irrational" decisions that puts its place in the world at risk.

Fratto said the U.S. will use its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to make sure any effort to change the provinces' international status is "dead on arrival."

On the heels of Russia's first post-Soviet invasion of a foreign country, recognition was another stark demonstration of the Kremlin's determination to hold sway in lands where its clout is jeopardized by NATO's expansion and growing Western influence.

Meanwhile, the the United States dispatched military ships bearing aid to a port city still controlled by Russian troops.

Rice also accused Medvedev of failing to honor his nation's commitments under an internationally backed cease-fire.