Russian foreign spy chief says Cold War with West has turned hot

Victory Day Parade in Moscow
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The head of Russia's foreign intelligence agency said on Thursday it was wrong to speak of a new Cold War between Russia and the West because the situation was already "hot".

"Western politicians and commentators like to call what is happening a 'new cold war.' It seems that historical parallels are not entirely appropriate here," Sergei Naryshkin said on his agency's website.

"If only because in the second half of the 20th century Russia fought with the West on the distant approaches, and now the war has come to the very borders of our Motherland. So for us it is definitely not 'cold', but quite 'hot'".

Naryshkin's comments followed a series of reminders from President Vladimir Putin and other top officials, before and since the invasion of Ukraine, that Russia is a leading nuclear weapons state.

The comments have been interpreted by Western governments as a warning that Putin may further escalate the conflict, although Moscow denies that.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Thursday that the idea of nuclear war was "constantly spinning in the heads of Western politicians" but not of Russians.

Russia rejects the term invasion and says its actions in Ukraine are not designed to occupy territory but to destroy Kyiv's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists - a pretext rejected by Ukraine and the West as baseless propaganda.

Naryshkin said it would be for Ukrainians to determine their own future. "But it will be a completely different Ukraine and a different story," he said.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Toby Chopra, William Maclean)