Ukraine said yesterday it wanted to dismantle any pro-Russian group after Britain accused Moscow of trying to impose a pro-Russian leader on Kyiv amid tensions on the Ukrainian border.
“Our state will continue its policy of dismantling any oligarchic and political structure that might work to destabilize Ukraine or be an accomplice of the Russian occupiers,” Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, said in comments sent to AFP.
British Foreign Minister Liz Truss on Saturday accused Russia of trying to “install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv” and of “planning to occupy” Ukraine, accusations Russia called “absurd”.
Accused by Westerners of having gathered tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border in preparation for an attack, the Kremlin denies any war intentions but links the reduction of the escalation to treaties that guarantee, in particular, the non-expansion of NATO.
Something considered unacceptable by Westerners, who threaten Russia with severe sanctions in the event of an attack.
The Russian Foreign Ministry urged the UK to “stop spreading nonsense” and “stop your stupid provocations (…), very dangerous in the current situation”.
British diplomacy said that “former Ukrainian MP Yevgenii Murayev is considered a potential candidate”, but he is not the only one: Russian intelligence services maintain “links with many former Ukrainian politicians”.
Reacting to these accusations, Murayev urged them to stop “dividing us into pro-Russians and pro-Westerns”, stressing that his country needs “new political leaders” guided by the “national interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people”.
British diplomacy also mentioned the names of Sergei Arbuzov (the first deputy prime minister of Ukraine from 2012 to 2014, then acting prime minister), Andrei Kluiev (who headed the presidential administration of former Ukrainian head of state Viktor Yanukovych), Volodymyr Sivkovytch (former deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine) or even Mykola Azarov (prime minister of Ukraine from 2010 to 2014).
“Some of them are in contact with Russian intelligence agents who are currently involved in planning an attack on Ukraine,” the British Foreign Ministry said.
The United States called these accusations “deeply troubling.”
“The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically elected partners in Ukraine,” said Emily Horne, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.
Washington also ordered the families of American diplomats in Kyiv to leave the country “due to the persistent threat of a Russian military operation,” the State Department announced Sunday.
Local officials can leave the embassy if they wish and US citizens residing in Ukraine “should consider” leaving the country on commercial flights or other modes of transport, it added in the official statement.
prayer for peace
On Sunday, Pope Francis said he was following “with concern” the rising tensions in Ukraine – which threaten the security of the European continent. He asked for a day of prayer for peace next Wednesday.
The scenario that Russia could take control of its neighbor was considered “absurd” by the head of the German Navy, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach. Comments that led to him being forced to resign at night, according to an announcement by the German Defense Ministry.
The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, assured, however, this Sunday that he had “no doubts” about Germany’s determination against Russia when questioned by the NBC broadcaster.
The British statements came just hours after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu agreed to meet Britain’s Ben Wallace. Shoigu proposed that the meeting be held in Moscow.
The bilateral meeting, the first since 2013, aims to “explore all avenues to achieve stability and a solution to the Ukrainian crisis”, a British Defense Ministry source said on Saturday.
In the same vein, France called on Sunday for a direct dialogue between the European Union and Russia on security in Europe, according to the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune.
Beaune insisted that it is unreasonable to speak of a possible invasion, as the diplomatic route to resolving tensions remains open.
Russian diplomacy chiefs Sergei Lavrov and US diplomats Blinken met on Friday in Geneva to try to ease tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border and agreed to continue “frank” talks this week.
Source: with agencies