Secretary Gates Recalls Cold War in Rejecting Putin Remarks

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has dismissed an attack on U.S. foreign policy by Russia's president during a security meeting in Germany. VOA's Stephanie Ho report, Gates has accepted an invitation to visit Russia.

The U.S. defense secretary told officials gathered at a security conference in Munich, Germany, that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks plainly because of his background as a former intelligence operative.

"Many of you have backgrounds in diplomacy or politics. I have, like your second speaker yesterday, a starkly different background, a career in the spy business. And I guess old spies have a habit of blunt speaking," said Gates. 

In a speech to the meeting Saturday, President Putin blamed U.S. policy for inciting other countries to seek nuclear weapons to defend themselves from what he called "an almost uncontained use of military force."

He said, "Military force leads to a situation where no country feels secure anymore." He said, "such policy is the catalyst for an arms race, and is nourishing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

President Putin's comments prompted the White House Saturday to express Washington's surprise and disappointment. Defense Secretary Gates said the Russian leader's speech reminded him of the Cold War, but said it is time to move on.

"The real world we inhabit is different and a much more complex world than that of 20 or 30 years ago," said Gates. "We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia. For this reason, I have this week accepted the invitation of both President Putin and Minister of Defense [Sergey] Ivanov to visit Russia. One Cold War was quite enough."

He said the United States considers Russia a global partner. But at the same time, he questioned Russian policies that he said work against international stability, including arms transfers and using energy resources for what he called political coercion.

Other speakers Sunday included German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

He said the world is at a crossroad, where the international community must persuade Iran and other countries to give up their nuclear ambitions, or once again face a nuclear arms race that would have unforseen consequences.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, who also spoke Sunday, said his country's nuclear program is not a threat to Israel or any other nation.

The annual two-day Munich Conference on Security Policy ended Sunday. For more than four decades, it has brought together the international security community from more than 40 countries, to discuss the development of trans-Atlantic relations and global security issues.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs