The UK warned on Saturday that Russia was plotting to put in a pro-Moscow chief in Ukraine at a time of mounting western alarm over an imminent Russian invasion of the nation.
The Overseas, Commonwealth and Improvement Workplace mentioned it had proof that Russia’s president Vladimir Putin was searching for to put in a puppet regime because it mulls whether or not to invade — and named Yevhen Murayev, a former Ukrainian MP, as a possible chief favoured by Moscow.
Liz Truss, UK overseas secretary, mentioned that the revelation “shines a lightweight on the extent of Russian exercise designed to subvert Ukraine and is an perception into Kremlin considering”.
She added: “Russia should de-escalate, finish its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy. Because the UK and our companions have mentioned repeatedly, any Russian army incursion into Ukraine can be a large strategic mistake with extreme prices.”
The UK additionally highlighted a number of former Ukrainian politicians who it mentioned had continued hyperlinks with Russian intelligence companies, together with Serhiy Arbuzov, former first deputy prime minister of Ukraine; Andriy Kluyev, chief of workers to former President Viktor Yanukovich; Vladimir Sivkovich, ex-deputy header of Ukraine’s Nationwide Safety and Defence Council; and Mykola Azarov, former prime minister of Ukraine.
Russia has massed 106,000 troops on the border with its western neighbour and Nato officers worry a Russian invasion is impending.
In response to London’s warning, the Russian overseas ministry mentioned in a press release cited by state newswire RIA Novosti: “The disinformation unfold by the UK Overseas Workplace is but extra proof that it’s Nato international locations, foremost the Anglo-Saxons, who’re escalating tensions round Ukraine.”
“We name on the Overseas Workplace to finish its provocative exercise, cease spreading nonsense and focus on learning the historical past of the Tatar-Mongol yoke,” the ministry added in an obvious dig at UK defence secretary Ben Wallace’s latest speech on Russia and Ukraine’s shared historical past.
Washington expressed its concern on the allegations. Emily Horne, a spokesperson for the White Home’s Nationwide Safety Council, mentioned: “This type of plotting is deeply regarding. The Ukrainian folks have the sovereign proper to find out their very own future, and we stand with our democratically elected companions in Ukraine.”
The UK’s late-night assertion got here on the finish of a day when Germany’s naval chief resigned after sparking a diplomatic row by saying that Vladimir Putin ought to be given the “respect he in all probability deserves” and claiming that Crimea would by no means be returned to Ukraine.