Munich Security Conference

Cold War Debate Clouds Trade

Dmitry Medvedev: a man with two faces in Munich.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German-Russian trade will suffer if relations between the two countries deteriorate even further.

  • Facts


    • Russia and the United States, along with other key players agreed Thursday to work toward a ceasefire in Syria.
    • Behind the scenes, German companies pushed for a resolution of the Ukraine crisis so that Western sanctions against Russia could be lifted.
    • Germany is Russia’s second-largest trading partner after China.
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In a world of war, there was a glimmer of peace ahead of the Munich Security Conference over the weekend. The major powers, above all the United States and Russia, had agreed on Thursday to work toward a ceasefire in Syria. Yet it took only a day for the news of peace to turn to renewed saber rattling.

During his speech to the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned of a “new Cold War” with the West and NATO. His combative statements set the tone of the public portion of the conference and provoked immediate responses.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took the stage to accuse Moscow of “repeated aggression” in Syria and Ukraine.

The mood soured even more when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during a subsequent panel discussion, said the freshly inked ceasefire in Syria was unlikely to hold.

“If you believe what you saw [over the weekend], it was almost entirely bad news,” Wolfgang Ischinger, a seasoned German diplomat who chairs the Munich Security Conference, told Handelsblatt. But “behind the scenes,” he added, “it was much calmer.”

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