EU’s Federica Mogherini said that she “has not seen the climate of Cold War these days”, responding to the recent comments by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that Russia and the West had “fallen into a new Cold War”. However, while referring to the Syrian conflict as a “proxy war”, Mrs. Mogherini also warned during a debate at the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Brussels earlier on Tuesday (23 February) that the current situation in Syria risks becoming “something bigger”.
Other senior EU officials said that there was indeed no Cold War climate between both parties since they agreed to temporarily cease fighting. At a security conference in Munich last week, world powers agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” to facilitate humanitarian aid that was about to start this week. Mrs. Mogherini urged all the parties to the cessation agreement to stick to their commitments.
However, Russia has not yet stopped its air strikes, which back up government troops during the siege of Syria’s largest city before the way, Aleppo. Russia is Damascus’ main ally, though there are also other supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, such as Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied that his country was using the new wave of diplomatic efforts around Syria as a cover to pushing for more military advances on the ground.
Mr Zarif commented that Iran was “not trying to use diplomacy to gain anything, but at the same time people cannot use diplomacy in order to provide human shield for al-Nusra and Islamic State working as a leverage”. He added that what was agreed in Munich “is a cessation of hostilities, not a pause to allow the allies of certain regional players to regroup” commenting on the criticism of Iran’s regional foe Saudi Arabia. Riyadh generally opposes President Assad as well the Islamic State and it even stated that it was ready to participate in ground operations in Syria if the US-led coalition decides to start one.