Dmitry Medvedev.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ANDREAS GEBERT

There is a "new Cold War" between Russia and the West, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, days after NATO said it would beef up its presence along Europe's eastern border.

"We have slipped into a period of a new Cold War," Medvedev said at the international summit of foreign policy and defence officials.

"NATO's political course remains unfriendly and closed towards Russia. It can be said in harsher terms: we have actually slipped into a period of a new Cold War," Medvedev said.

"We are declared almost daily the most menacing threat for NATO as a whole or separately for Europe or for America. ... Meanwhile, real threats which exist in our small world consist of something quite different."

Russia's relations with the West have nosedived in the last two years amid Western concerns over Russia's foreign policy and growing autocracy at home.

Medvedev blamed the West for this deterioration, referring to President Vladimir Putin's warning at the 2007 Munich summit that NATO's plans to build a missile system in Eastern Europe could instigate a new Cold War. Medvedev said that now the situation has become "much more grim."

Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and has been accused of military involvement in secessionist movements in that country's east.

Medvedev's comments came three days after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced that the Western military alliance would increase its presence in the Black Sea, which surrounds Crimea.

On Friday, Stoltenberg and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tried and failed to convene a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, which has been largely inactive since Russia annexed Crimea.

Russian forces occupied Crimea - the location of a strategic Russian naval base - after Ukraine ousted its former pro-Russian president amid mass protests calling for closer ties with the West.

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