Corbyn delivers Cold War warning unless borders demilitarised

Nato recently announced it would station thousands more troops in Eastern Europe

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Jeremy Corbyn has called for Western leaders to demilitarise the border between Russia and Eastern Europe or risk a new Cold War.

The Labour leader said he had some criticisms of Vladimir Putin, but that the West had to ensure it did not pile up forces on Russia’s border.  

It comes after Nato, which Mr Corbyn has been a long-term critic of, announced a new deployment in Eastern Europe amid rising tension with Moscow.

Speaking to BBC presenter Andrew Marr, Mr Corbyn said: "I have many, many criticisms of Putin, of the human rights abuses in Russia, of the militarisation of society. But I do think there has to be a process that we try –demilitarise the border between what are now the Nato states and Russia, so that we drive apart those forces and keep them further apart in order to bring about some kind of accommodation.

"We can’t descend into a new Cold War. "

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In October, Nato revealed it is preparing to station 4,000 troops on the Russian border with the Baltic states in its biggest military build-up since the Cold War. The troops will be summoned from nations across the alliance, including the UK.

A Nato official said: "Nato is enhancing deterrence and defence across the board and this is a long-standing and ongoing effort. We are taking steps to strengthen our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, including by deploying four battalions to the Baltic States and Poland. And our Spearhead Force of about 5,000 people is on high readiness, which can deploy anywhere in the Alliance on short notice. This is backed up by NATO’s 40,000-strong Response Force, and military personnel from NATO Allies. Our forces in the east will train and operate with national home defence forces.

Mr Corbyn suggested in his interview that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes Russia, could replace Nato as a forum for solving issues in the region.

During the Leadership contest Mr Corbyn stoked controversy after refusing to directly back upholding Nato's article five, which commits countries to defend each other if attacked.