UK accuses Kremlin of trying to install pro-Russian leader in Ukraine

LONDON – Britain on Saturday accused the Kremlin of trying to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, and said Russian intelligence officers had come into contact with a number of former Ukrainian politicians as part of a campaign to establish a political system. plan for an invasion.

The UK Foreign Office declined to provide evidence to support its allegations, which were made at the time high stress between Russia and the West over Russia’s military buildup near the border with Ukraine. Moscow insists it has no plans to invade.

The British Ministry said it has information the Russian government is considering former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev as a potential candidate to head a pro-Russian leadership board.

“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 strike would be a major strategic mistake and that the UK and our partners will pay a heavy price for Russia.”

The British statement came in the early hours of Sunday, Moscow and Kyiv time, and there was no immediate statement from the Kremlin, or from Murayev.

Russian Foreign Ministry dismiss The comments were “disinformation”, accusing Britain and NATO of “escalating tensions” over Ukraine.

“We urge the State Department to stop these provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense, and finally focus efforts on studying the history of the Mongolian-Tatar yoke,” the ministry said on its website. your verified Facebook account.

The claims of the British came a day after topping America and Russia diplomats failure to make a major breakthrough in the negotiations to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, although they agreed to continue talking. Russia has made security demands of the United States, including a halt to NATO’s eastward expansion and a pledge that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the Western military alliance.

“This type of plot is deeply concerning,” said US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne in a statement. “Ukrainian people have the right to determine their own future and we stand with our democratically elected partners in Ukraine.”

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

“You made my evening. The UK Foreign Office looks confused,” Murayev told Britain’s Observer newspaper. “It doesn’t make much sense. I am banned from going to Russia. Not only that, the money from my father’s company there was also confiscated. ”

Britain, which this week supplied 2,000 missiles and a military training team to Ukraine, also said it had information that Russian intelligence agencies were maintaining contacts with “many” former Ukrainian politicians. , including high-ranking figures with ties to former President Viktor Yanukovich.

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

“Some of these are linked to Russian intelligence officers who are currently involved in the planning to attack Ukraine,” the British foreign office said in a statement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office also said the British leader was planning to ramp up pressure on Russia this week by calling on European partners to work with the US in the face of aggression. of Russia.

Earlier, the RIA news agency reported that British Foreign Secretary Truss would visit Moscow in February to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, while Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his British counterpart Ben Wallace had also agreed to hold talks. . UK accuses Kremlin of trying to install pro-Russian leader in Ukraine

Jake Nichol

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