MUNICH - Violence in eastern Ukraine is intensifying and Russian-backed rebels have moved heavy weaponry back to the front line, international monitors warned on Saturday as Moscow responded by accusing Kiev of violating a peace deal.
In the latest sign that peace efforts have made scant progress almost two years since Moscow annexed Crimea, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev described East-West relations as having "fallen into a new Cold War" and said NATO was "hostile and closed" towards Russia.
Implementation of a deal agreed in Minsk a year ago, which would allow for the lifting of sanctions on Russia, and a lull in violence late last year raised hopes that the conflict that has killed more than 9,000 people could be resolved quickly.
But Lamberto Zannier, who heads the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring eastern Ukraine, said the situation had "become difficult again."
"We see a multiplication of incidents, violations of the ceasefire," he told Reuters at the Munich Security Conference. "We've seen cases of redeployment of heavy armaments closer to the contact line ... and multiple rocket launchers, artillery being used," he said, referring to the heavy weaponry that is meant to be removed under the Minsk deal.
Medvedev, also speaking in Munich, accused Kiev of trying to shift the blame onto Moscow for the continued shelling in the industrial regions of eastern Ukraine now under rebel control.
"The Minsk agreements have to be observed by everyone. But we believe that it's first and foremost up to the Kiev authorities to do that," he said.