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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that the world was preparing to face a global nuclear winter if Russia did not respond to new sanctions that were announced on Friday, Russian news channels reported.
In a phone call with his German counterpart, Angela Merkel, the Russian leader said the sanctions, which he said would impact “everyone from Iran to North Korea”, “will surely lead to a global nuclear winter, an ice age, a global famine”.
Putin, who has faced mounting international protests over the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine and the war in Syria, made the comment at the German chancellor’s urging during a meeting in Sochi in February. [L8N1VX1HW]
“I have heard reports that the West is preparing to impose sanctions against Russia that will be harmful to the rest of the world,” Putin told Merkel, according to the REN-TV network. “This is the worst case scenario, I can assure you. The West is moving against us and we are moving back.”
Merkel said the meeting was to discuss the situation on the Ukraine-Russia border, according to her press office. Russia has been supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine for months.
Merkel said the West needed to “step up its efforts” to prevent any attempt by Russia to intervene militarily in Ukraine’s southeastern regions where some 30,000 people have been killed since February 2011.
Putin said the West must act forcefully with the aim of preventing an “irreversible escalation of the conflict”. A German source said after the meeting that the message was, “Listen to us.”
German President Joachim Gauck said the summit did not discuss Europe’s economic problems and “there was no disagreement over the situation on the European front”.
Russia is an important energy supplier for Europe and a key market for Western European firms.
The world’s economic growth prospects have been dimmed by the global financial crisis and the sanctions, which were signed into law on Friday by a United States executive order and four other world powers.
The first round of sanctions, which are imposed on individuals and companies that support the separatists, were passed under pressure from Moscow after