Putin accuses Ukraine of provoking clashes with pro-Russian separatists amid tensions
MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of provoking armed confrontation with pro-Russian separatists and failing to honour earlier agreements over its wartorn east, the Kremlin said in a readout of a telephone call with France and Germany's leaders.The comments during a call late on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor […]

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of provoking armed confrontation with pro-Russian separatists and failing to honour earlier agreements over its wartorn east, the Kremlin said in a readout of a telephone call with France and Germany's leaders.

The comments during a call late on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel came shortly after Ukraine's commander-in-chief accused Russia of a military buildup near Ukraine's borders.

The Ukrainian army chief also said that pro-Moscow separatists were systematically violating a ceasefire in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Tensions have flared in a conflict that has killed 14,000 people since it erupted in 2014, according to Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for a recent spate of violence.

In the Kremlin's readout of the call, Putin placed the blame on Ukraine and urged Kyiv to enter into direct dialogue with local separatist forces.

"The Russian side expressed serious concern over the escalation of armed confrontation that is being provoked by Ukraine along the line of contact and its effective refusal to implement the agreements of July 2020 ... to strengthen the ceasefire regime," the Kremlin said.

Germany, Russia and France are part of the Normandy format that also includes Ukraine and that was set up in 2014 to try to resolve the conflict in Ukraine's east.

Putin, Merkel and Macron also discussed the prospects for registering Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 in the European Union, as well as Libya, Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, the Kremlin said. Putin also answered questions about jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny, it added.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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