(Reuters) – NATO has detected signs of heightened Russian involvement in fighting in parts of eastern Ukraine, the alliance’s top military commander said on Thursday.
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe, said fighting in the pro-Russian separatist uprising was now more intense in some places than it was before September’s Minsk ceasefire agreement.
Breedlove told a news conference after a meeting of NATO defense chiefs that military leaders would try to re-establish contact with their Russian counterparts, broken off amid tensions over Ukraine.
Russia denies deploying troops in eastern Ukraine, where more than 4,800 people have been killed since a pro-Russian rebellion broke out soon after Moscow annexed Crimea in March. It also rejects accusations it is supplying arms.
“The situation along the line of contact in Ukraine is not good. The fighting has intensified to essentially pre-agreement or pre-standdown levels and in some cases beyond,” Breedlove said.