The UK foreign office has said in statement it has information that the Russian government is planning to “install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine.”
“The former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev is being considered as a potential candidate,” the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said. Murayev told CNN Saturday “there is nothing to comment on” regarding the allegations, as he is a Ukrainian national and still facing Russian sanctions.
US accuses Russia of recruiting officials in attempt to take over Ukrainian government
Early Sunday, Russia’s foreign ministry called on the UK’s foreign office to “stop engaging in provocations,” state news agency TASS reported.
In a statement Saturday, the White House said President Joe Biden met with his national security team to discuss “continued Russian aggressive actions toward Ukraine.”
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Russia has previously been accused of attempting to sow chaos in Ukraine through cyberattacks and, purportedly, plotting to take control of the government in Kyiv. But the Kremlin has repeatedly denied it is planning to invade.
CNN previously reported the US accused Russia of recruiting current and former Ukrainian government officials to attempt to take control of Ukraine’s government as it unveiled new sanctions on Thursday.
The Treasury Department rolled out sanctions against four current and former Ukrainian officials it said were involved in Kremlin-directed influence activities to destabilize Ukraine. Those newly sanctioned individuals include Taras Romanovych Kozak, Volodymyr Mykolayovych Oliynyk, Vladimir Leonidovich Sivkovich, and Oleh Voloshyn.
Sivkovich was the only former Ukrainian politician named in both the US and UK announcements.
The Treasury said the four individuals — two of whom are current members of Ukraine’s Parliament — were acting under the direction of a Russian intelligence service sanctioned by the US and played “various roles” in Russia’s “global influence campaign to destabilize sovereign countries in support of the Kremlin’s political objectives.”
US National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne expressed solidarity with Ukraine as the UK Foreign Office said it had information the Russian government is planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, calling the plot “deeply concerning.”
“This kind of plotting is deeply concerning,” Horne said. “The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically-elected partners in Ukraine.”