Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev today said that strains between Russia and the West have plunged the world into a "new Cold War".

With tensions high over the Ukraine conflict and Russia's backing of the Syrian regime, Mr Medvedev said: "All that's left is an unfriendly policy of NATO against Russia."

"We can say it even more clearly: We have slid into a new period of Cold War," he said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

"Almost every day we are accused of making new horrible threats either against NATO as a whole, against Europe or against the US or other countries."

Mr Medvedev criticised the expansion of NATO and EU influence deep into formerly Soviet-ruled eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War.

"European politicians thought that creating a so-called belt of friends at Europe's side, on the outskirts of the EU, could be a guarantee of security, and what's the result?" he said. 

"Not a belt of friends but a belt of exclusion."

He added that "creating trust is hard...but we have to start. Our positions differ, but they do not differ as much as 40 years ago when a wall was standing in Europe."