Ukraine vows 'dismantling' of pro-Russia groups after UK claims

Sunday January 23 2022
War pic

A pro-Russia separatist patrols outside the destroyed Donetsk international airport. PHOTO | AFP

Kyiv. Ukraine said Sunday it would continue countering pro-Russian individuals and entities aiming to destabilise Ukraine, after the UK accused Russia of looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv. 

"Our state will continue its policy of dismantling any oligarchic or political structures that could be working to destabilise Ukraine or aid the occupiers," said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff.

The term is often used by officials in Kyiv to refer to Russia and its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Britain alleged this weekend it had information that Moscow was "looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv" at a time when fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine are growing.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks as tens of thousands of Russian troops mass on Ukraine's border, along with an arsenal of tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery and missiles.

Among those named in the plot was former MP Yevgen Murayev, who the British Foreign Office said was being considered by Russia as a possible leader of Ukraine.

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"Governments in countries allied with us have recently begun to bluntly call a spade a spade and expose certain 'friends of Russia,'" Podolyak said in written comments to AFP.

"This British information clearly follows along in this logical chain," he added.

London said it had seen evidence that several former Ukrainian politicians had maintained links with Russian intelligence services.

"For some time, Russia has seen its main strategy towards Ukraine to be the selection of specific individuals in oligarchic or political circles and the attempt to promote Russia's interests through them,"Podolyak said. 

The United States said the revelations of the plot were "deeply concerning".

Moscow dismissed them as "disinformation", and urged London to "stop spreading nonsense."