UK says Kremlin wants to “install pro-Russian leadership in Ukraine”



The United Kingdom on Saturday accused the Kremlin of trying to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine and said Russian intelligence had been in contact with several former Ukrainian politicians as part of plans for an invasion.

The British Foreign Ministry refused to provide evidence to support its accusations, which came at a time of high tensions between Russia and the West over the concentration of Russian troops near its border with Ukraine. . Moscow has insisted it has no plans to invade.

The British ministry said it had information that the Russian government considered former Ukrainian delegate Yevhen Murayev as a potential candidate for pro-Russian leadership.

“We will not tolerate the Kremlin’s plot to install pro-Russian leadership in Ukraine,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Twitter. “The Kremlin knows that a military incursion would be a massive strategic mistake and the United Kingdom and our partners would impose a severe cost on Russia.”

The British statement was made public in the early hours of Sunday, Moscow and Kiev time.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is seen in Sydney on Friday. Truss said on Saturday that the UK would not tolerate Moscow’s alleged efforts to “install pro-Russian leadership in Ukraine”. (Bianca De Marchi-Pool / Getty Images)

A Foreign Ministry source said it was not common practice to share intelligence issues and that the details had only been declassified after careful consideration to deter Russian aggression.

The accusations are ‘nonsense’: Russian ministry

Russia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the comments as “misinformation”, accusing Britain and NATO of “escalating tensions” over Ukraine.

“We urge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop these provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense and finally concentrate its efforts on studying the history of the Mongol-Tatar yoke,” the ministry said in its verified Facebook account.

British statements come a day after top US and Russian diplomats failed to make much headway in talks to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, although they agreed to continue talking.

Russia has made security demands on the United States, including stopping NATO expansion to the east and promising that Ukraine will never be able to join the Western military alliance.

U.S. Homeland Security spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement: “This kind of conspiracy is deeply worrying. The people of Ukraine have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we are with our democratically elected partners. in Ukraine “.

“Contact with Russian intelligence officers”

Murayev, 45, is a pro-Russian politician who opposes Ukraine’s integration into the West. According to a survey by the Razumkov Center think tank conducted in December 2021, it ranked seventh among the candidates for the 2024 presidential election with 6.3% support.

“You made me night. The British Foreign Office looks confused,” Murayev told Britain’s Observer newspaper. “It’s not very logical. I was expelled from Russia. Not only that, but they also confiscated money from my father’s company.”

The United Kingdom, which this week supplied 2,000 missiles and a team of military trainers to Ukraine, also said it had information that Russian intelligence maintained links with “numerous” former Ukrainian politicians, including prominent figures with links with former President Viktor Yanukovych.

Then-President Viktor Yanukovych is seen in Kiev in February 2014. (Konstantin Chernichkin / Reuters)

Yanukovych fled to Russia in 2014 after three months of protests against his government and was sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison on charges of treason in 2019.

“Some of them are in contact with Russian intelligence officials who are currently involved in planning an attack on Ukraine,” the British Foreign Office statement said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office also said the British leader plans to increase pressure on Russia this week by calling on European counterparts to meet with the United States to deal with Russian aggression.

Earlier, the RIA news agency reported that British Foreign Secretary Truss would visit Moscow in February to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, while Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his counterpart British Ben Wallace have also agreed to hold talks.

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