The British government says it has information that Russia plans to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine. British intelligence would indicate that former parliamentarian Evgeny Murayev is a potential candidate. This was announced by the British government on Saturday evening, international news agencies report.
According to the British government, Russian intelligence agents are in contact with a number of former Ukrainian politicians as part of plans for a possible Russian invasion of the neighboring country, including allies of former President Viktor Yanukovych. Murayev, 45, heads the small pro-Russian party Nashi, which currently has no seats in the Ukrainian parliament.
The British Foreign Office has provided no evidence for the allegations. It is unclear how Britain thinks Russia will install a benevolent government in Kiev.
The allegations come at a time of mounting tensions between Russia and the West over Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border. Moscow has gathered more than 100,000 troops in the border area. The Kremlin denies planning to invade the neighboring country.
“We will not tolerate a Kremlin plan to install pro-Russian leaders in Ukraine,” wrote British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Twitter. According to her, the information “shines light on the extent to which Russian activities are aimed at undermining Ukraine”. She called on Moscow to “de-escalate, end the campaigns of aggression and disinformation and choose a path of diplomacy.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the British allegations as “disinformation” and called the statement “evidence that NATO countries, under Anglo-Saxon leadership, are escalating tensions over Ukraine.”
The White House called the British statement “deeply disturbing” and said it supported the democratically elected Ukrainian government. “The Ukrainian people have the right to determine their own future,” said Emily Horne, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington.
Also read: Diplomacy around Ukraine is not over yet
On Friday, talks between US and Russian foreign ministers Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov failed to produce a breakthrough – although both sides plan to continue talks next week.
The United Kingdom has sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against a possible Russian attack.
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