August 18, 2015 / 1:56 PM / in 2 years

Russia's Putin blames Kiev for increased violence in east Ukraine

SEVASTOPOL, Crimea (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday blamed the Ukrainian government for the latest upsurge in fighting between Kiev forces and Russia-backed rebels in east Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (front) is seen inside a research bathyscaphe while submerging into the waters of the Black Sea as he takes part in an expedition near Sevastopol, Crimea, August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

After taking a dive in an underwater submersible in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula Moscow annexed from Kiev last year, Putin told reporters:

“Regrettably, we are now seeing this conflict escalation and the blame lies not with the Donbas militia but with the rival side,” he said, referring to the rebel-held Ukrainian region.

“I hope there won’t be full-scale direct clashes.”

Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; writing by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Polina Devitt

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