Russian-Europe war rhetoric spikes

Russian-Europe war rhetoric spikes

MOSCOW (APP) - State television threatens the West with nuclear weapons , the Kremlin halts a disarmament treaty, the army warns of shooting down US jets. As ties between Russia and the West have once again slumped, rhetoric in Moscow has peaked.

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"Relations between Russia and the US , and the West in general, have been dragged down to the bottom, to a level below which it is difficult to fall," Konstantin Kalachev , the head of the Moscow-based Political Expert Group think tank, told.

But it wasn't meant to be like this.

Just over a month ago Moscow and Washington inked a deal to revive a ceasefire in Syria and the Kremlin seemed to have scored a tactical win by getting the United States to open the door to coordinate strikes against jihadists .

The agreement -- hammered out after repeated rounds of exhausting talks -- appeared a potential breakthrough in Syria's civil war and years of bad blood and furious mudslinging between Moscow and Washington sparked by the Ukraine crisis.

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Many, however, were sceptical that the Kremlin and White House, on opposite sides in Syria, could begin to bury the hatchet -- and so it proved.

Soon the truce collapsed and as the violence spiralled so did the ferocious acrimony.

Washington suspended talks with the Kremlin on Syria; Moscow tore up a treaty on disposing weapons-grade plutonium; the West accused Russia and Syria of potential war crimes in its brutal attacks on rebel-held east Aleppo.

The US then formally accused Moscow of hacking American institutions to interfere in its looming presidential election.

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"Russia went further, turning a local breakdown in bilateral relations into a global one," wrote Alexander Baunov from the Carnegie Moscow Center.

As President Vladimir Putin suspended the plutonium deal, he slapped on a raft of staggering conditions for it to be restarted: Washington needed to pull back forces in eastern Europe , scrap sanctions and pay Moscow compensation.

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