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Ukraine crisis: London accuses Moscow of conspiracy

Ukraine crisis: London accuses Moscow of conspiracy

The Russian government is trying to establish a pro-Russian leadership in Kiev, according to the British Foreign Office.

In an unprecedented warning, the British government accused the Kremlin of wanting significant political influence in Ukraine. “We have information indicating that the Russian government is trying to establish a pro-Russian leadership in Kiev while it is contemplating the invasion and occupation of Ukraine,” the British government said in a statement on Saturday evening.

However, experts believe that Moscow is unlikely to conquer Kiev. Yevniy Murrayev, a former Ukrainian MP, has been selected as a possible candidate for a leadership position in the government in Kiev. However, the candidate identified by London as a potential ruler of Moscow has been on the Russian sanctions list since 2018. Although Murayev is said to have some values ​​of sympathy in eastern Ukraine, he is by no means considered a political heavyweight.

In response to a question from the Observer newspaper, Murrayev said the British Foreign Office appeared confused. “This is not very logical. I am banned from entering Russia. Not only that, my father’s company money has been confiscated.”

With connections to Vienna

The British Foreign Office also named four political retirees under President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in 2014, including two former senior bureaucrats with close ties to Vienna in the past. Andrei Klyuyev, the powerful former head of Yanukovych’s presidential office, owned shares in companies with his brother Serhiy through SLAV AG in Vienna.

Former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, whose family owns properties in Vienna and Mariazell, resided in Austria several times before the change of power in Kiev at the end of February 2014. The former prime minister later represented Viennese lawyer Gabriel Lansky in his lawsuit against EU sanctions.

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Moscow criticizes the provocation

For Moscow, the British broadcast was “disinformation”. “We call on the British Foreign Office to end these provocations, stop spreading nonsense and focus on researching the Mongol and Tatar yoke (13th-15th centuries, ed.),” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman sarcastically, Maria Zakharova, said Sunday night via Telegram.

The background to the British statement is the serious tensions in the conflict in Ukraine. The United States in particular fears an invasion of the neighboring country given the large presence of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine. Moscow rejects this almost every day. Britain had already sent light anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, drawing criticism from the Kremlin for doing so.

It is said that former politicians have contact with Russia

The British Foreign Office also said it had information that other former Ukrainian politicians – named by name – had been in contact with Russian intelligence, the British said. Some are in contact with security officials “involved in planning an attack on Ukraine”.

A week ago, the United States claimed that agents of Russia were planning a special operation in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin refused and demanded proof. The US government described the latest allegations as “extremely disturbing”. “The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future,” said US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne. The United States stands with Ukraine’s democratically elected partners.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called on Moscow to “end its aggressive campaigns and disinformation and follow the path of diplomacy.” The minister said any military invasion of Ukraine would be a “grave strategic mistake with huge costs”. London stands with Ukraine as an independent and sovereign country. On Saturday, several Russian state media reported, citing sources, that Truss is expected to visit Moscow in February.

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The United States and its Western allies have been demanding for weeks the withdrawal of Russian forces massed on the Ukrainian border. In return, Moscow demands security guarantees and an end to the eastern expansion of the Western military alliance NATO. Efforts to ease tension have been in full swing since last week, but have not yielded tangible results so far.