Russia has urged the UK to cease spreading false stories
The Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed a claim by the UK government that Moscow is plotting to install a puppet government in Kiev, calling on London's Foreign Office to stop spreading "nonsense" and "disinformation."
The UK government sent a press release to media outlets on Saturday titled "Kremlin plan to install pro-Russian leadership in Ukraine exposed." As previously reported by RT, it accused Moscow of seeking to install a more friendly government in Kiev as part of a supposed plan to "invade and occupy Ukraine."
British media outlets, including the BBC and the Financial Times, dutifully published the allegations in the middle of the night, adhering to the advised embargo. Only a handful of news outlets expressed some skepticism over the claims. The Guardian acknowledged some "confusion" as the claim "comes with scant detail," while the AP conceded it was "unclear what means Britain believes Russia might use."
Despite the lack of evidence, the UK's claims were almost immediately boosted by Washington, with a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council, Emily Horne, saying "this kind of plotting is deeply concerning."
Russia's Foreign Ministry soon responded to the allegations with a statement of its own, shooting back at the UK government by accusing it of intentionally escalating tensions in Ukraine.
"The disinformation spread by the UK Foreign Office is yet more evidence that it is NATO countries, foremost the Anglo-Saxons, who are escalating tensions around Ukraine," it said. The ministry further called on the Foreign Office "to end its provocative activity, stop spreading nonsense and concentrate on studying the history of the Tatar-Mongol yoke," in an apparent dig at Foreign Secretary Liz Truss' recent speech.
Offering no proof, the Foreign Office named several former Ukrainian politicians it believes to be in contact with "Russian intelligence services" - including former MP Evgeniy Murayev, dubbed a "potential candidate" to replace Ukraine's current Western-backed President Volodymyr Zelensky. Murayev, 45, was a member of the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, between 2012 and 2019, but his Opposition Bloc party failed to pass the 5% threshold in the latest parliamentary election.
"You've made my evening. The British Foreign Office seems confused," Murayev told The Observer, explaining that he has been under Russia's own sanctions since 2018. In a separate statement to Strana news, Murayev further mocked the claim by saying: "How the UK secret services and the Foreign Office square [the sanctions] with Russia supposedly wanting to make me the head of an occupation government - that's a question for Mr. Bean."
Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that it's planning an invasion of Ukraine, which have been made by the US and its allies since November last year, describing the claims as groundless attempts to instill "hysteria."
According to the Kremlin, it's the West that has been stirring tensions in Ukraine by supplying weapons to Kiev - which is embroiled in a "frozen" conflict with self-proclaimed republics in the southeastern Donbass region - and intensifying the NATO buildup in Eastern Europe. On Monday, the British government gave the green light to send anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, under the pretext of "the increasingly threatening behavior from Russia."