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Russia rejects UK request to replace Ukrainian leader


MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday dismissed a British claim that Russia was seeking to replace Ukraine’s government with a pro-Moscow administration and that former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevheniy Murayev was seen as a potential candidate.

The British Foreign Office also named several other Ukrainian politicians on Saturday who it said had links to Russian intelligence, as well as Murayev who is the leader of a small pro-Russian party that has no seat in parliament.

The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) made this claim based on an intelligence assessment, without providing any supporting evidence. It comes amid high tensions between Moscow and the West over Russia’s designs on Ukraine.

“The disinformation spread by the UK Foreign Office is further proof that it is NATO countries, led by the Anglo-Saxons, who are escalating tensions around Ukraine,” the spokeswoman said yesterday. of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, on the Telegram messaging application. “We call on the UK Foreign Office to stop its provocative activities, to stop spreading nonsense.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the information “highlights the extent of Russian activity aimed at overthrowing Ukraine and provides insight into Kremlin thinking.”

Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, voluntary military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park
in Kyiv, Ukraine. PHOTO: AP

Truss urged Russia to “de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation and pursue diplomacy”, and reiterated Britain’s view that “any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with significant costs.”

Britain has sent anti-tank weapons to Ukraine as part of efforts to bolster its defenses against a possible Russian attack.

Amid diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is expected to meet Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for talks in Moscow. No timetable has been given for the meeting, which would be the first bilateral defense talks between the UK and Russia since 2013.

The United States (US) has mounted an aggressive campaign in recent months to unite its European allies against another Russian invasion of Ukraine. The White House called the UK government’s assessment “deeply concerning” and said it backed Ukraine’s duly elected government.

“This kind of conspiracy is deeply concerning,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said. “The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically elected partners in Ukraine.”

The assessment came as US President Joe Biden spent Saturday at the Camp David presidential retreat outside Washington huddled with his national security team on the situation in Ukraine.