UK claims Moscow plans to install pro-Russia leader in Ukraine
London, Jan 22 (EFE).- The British government claimed Saturday that it has “exposed” a plot by the Kremlin to install a pro-Russia leader in Kiev, as Moscow demanded it “stop spreading nonsense.”
“We have information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine,” the Foreign Office said in a statement released around midnight Saturday.
It added that “the former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev is being considered as a potential candidate.”
It also said Russian intelligence maintains links with “numerous” former Ukrainian politicians including Serhiy Arbuzov, Ukraine’s first deputy prime minister from 2012 to 2014 and acting prime minister in 2014; Andriy Kluyev, first deputy prime minister from 2010 to 2012; Vladimir Sivkovich, former deputy head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, and Mykola Azarov, prime minister from 2010 to 2014.
Some of these have contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine, the note stated.
Murayev, who the Foreign Office named as potential leader of a puppet government for Moscow, told the Observer newspaper that “the British Foreign Office seems confused.”
“It isn’t very logical. I’m banned from Russia. Not only that but money from my father’s firm there has been confiscated,” he said.
Russia’s foreign affairs ministry in a tweet accused the Foreign Office of “circulating disinformation” and demanded it “cease these provocative activities” and “stop spreading nonsense.”
US and Ukrainian governments have warned an incursion could occur early this year as Russia has amassed 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine.
Moscow has denied it is planning an invasion, but has asked the West for guarantees that Ukraine will never be part of NATO and that there will be not be strategic weapons stationed by NATO in the Ukraine, according to United States President Joe Biden.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is currently visiting Australia, said that “the information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking.”
“Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy. As the UK and our partners have said repeatedly, any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with severe costs,” Truss added.
The British government reiterates that it unequivocally supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, within its internationally recognized borders, including Crimea.
Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014 after Ukraine overthrew its pro-Russia president. EFE