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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rodionov: 'Cold War Not Yet Over'

Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov said in a television interview broadcast Saturday that the Cold War with the United States was not over.

"I think the Cold War is not yet over, to a certain extent," Rodionov told Russian television in an interview recorded as he returned from meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.

"There exist two countries, Russia and the United States, with powerful nuclear potentials capable of destroying the globe and turning each other into dust," he said. "Is there a 100 percent guarantee that a possible conflict can be avoided?"

At a news conference Wednesday, Rodionov, saying NATO's plans to enlarge eastward were unacceptable, declined a NATO offer to exchange military officers as a first step to a radical new relationship between the former Cold War adversaries.

"The position is as follows. NATO enlargement to the east is unacceptable to Russia," Rodionov said.

"We don't understand why other countries are being taken on board and Russia is being ignored," he said, warning exclusion could mean "a return to the bad old days of the Cold War."

NATO had hoped Rodionov would take the first concrete step toward a charter after Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said last week Moscow was ready to talk despite opposition to NATO's eastward enlargement plans.

In Saturday's interview, Rodionov said NATO members wanted to expand the alliance as a curb against Russia.

"They thought, O.K., Russia is weak economically, and from the military point of view, and its geography is changed, and it has more internal problems now and fewer allies, if any, so we can carry on with a policy of force," he said. "Some countries, especially former Soviet allies, asked [to join NATO], so they thought how can we turn them down? Let's accept them, and also, just in case, enlarge our military power and move closer to the Russian border. Who knows how the new Russia will develop?"

Russia is deeply opposed to NATO, which plans to open talks at a July 8 and 9 summit in Madrid next year to admit a number of former communist countries from Eastern Europe. The most likely are Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Rodionov was retired from military service earlier this month by President Boris Yeltsin to become Russia's first civilian defense minister.