Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said tensions between Moscow and the West have sent the world spiralling into a “new Cold War”.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Mr Medvedev blamed US and European leaders for the souring of relations with Russia.

“We have slid into a new period of Cold War,” he warned.

“Almost every day we are accused of making new horrible threats either against NATO as a whole, against Europe, or against the US or other countries.”

Russian PM Medvedev speaks during meeting with representatives of Russian and German business community as part of Munich Security Conference in Munich

Dmitry Medvedev at the Munich Security Conference

He also rejected accusations that Russian planes have bombed civilians in Syria – saying it is “just not true”.

“There is no evidence of our bombing civilians, even though everyone is accusing us of this,” he added.

“Russia is not trying to achieve some secret goals in Syria. We are simply trying to protect our national interests.”

It came moments after French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Russia must stop killing civilians if there is to be an end to Syria’s five-year civil war.

“France respects Russia and its interests … but we know that to find the path to peace again, the Russian bombing of civilians has to stop,” Mr Valls said.

Mr Medvedev said the aim of Moscow’s aerial bombardment was to stop extremist groups getting to Russia.

He urged improved dialogue between Moscow and the West, citing Friday’s meeting between the Pope and head of the Russian Orthodox Church following a 1,000-year split in Christianity.

“Just yesterday, we saw a shining example of what happens when one starts to move towards someone – the meeting between his Holiness Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis,” he said.

“Before that those two Christian churches did not talk for centuries.”

Mr Medvedev said sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea and new military moves by NATO “only aggravate” tensions.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an exclusive interview with AFP in the capital Damascus.

Play video “Assad: ‘We Will Retake Syria'”

Video: Assad: ‘We Will Retake Syria’

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In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the same security conference the West’s building of a missile defence system risked rekindling the Cold War, and now “the picture is more grim”, he added.

Britain’s Foreign Office declined to comment on Mr Medvedev’s Cold War claims.

On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al Assad vowed to retake the entire country, after it was revealed a truce has been agreed for a “nationwide cessation” of bloodshed in a week’s time.

Syria Conflict

Play video “Syria: Millions Killed And Injured”

Video: Syria: Millions Killed And Injured

Mr Assad said he supported peace talks, but negotiations do “not mean that we stop fighting terrorism”.

Islamic State (IS), al Nusra and other groups will not be involved in the ceasefire – and Russia has said it will continue its bombing campaign.