Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has accused the West of restarting the Cold War, speaking at a security conference in Germany where Ukraine is high on the agenda.
Medvedev told delegates Saturday that "NATO's policies related to Russia remain unfriendly and opaque. One could even go so far as to say we have slid back to a new Cold War."
His words echoed a similar assessment by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the same Munich Security Conference in 2007. But Medvedev said the situation has worsened since then. He said Saturday "the picture is more grim; the developments since 2007 have been worse than anticipated."
Tensions between Russia and NATO countries have been increasing over Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, and backing the Syrian government in that country's civil war.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Saturday said Moscow and Kyiv, the major players in the dispute over Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, must move forward on implementing the peace deal worked out in Minsk last year. He said "not talking to each other in times of crisis can't be the answer," and said in a written statement the parties are "a fair way" away from implementing the deal.
Lavrov concerned about NATO's plans
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with the head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, on the sidelines of the security conference after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military buildup in Europe since the Cold War.
Russia's TASS state news agency said Lavrov expressed concern about the Western military alliance's plans to strengthen its presence on Russia's borders.
Earlier Friday, Russian news agencies said Lavrov and Stoltenberg discussed holding a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, but agreed that the agenda for the meeting still needs to be worked out.
NATO said on its website Friday that Stoltenberg and Lavrov "reviewed NATO-Russia relations and agreed to continue exploring the possibility of a NATO-Russia Council meeting."
The United States is to quadruple military spending in Europe to $3.4 billion in 2017 as NATO increases troops on rotation and training, stockpiles military hardware and arms, and forms a rapid reaction force.
Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. The military alliance says the news plans are aimed at reassuring eastern European allies concerned about Russian aggression.