The UK government has explicitly accused the Russian government of being hard at work putting a pro-Russian leader in the government of Ukraine. According to the British Foreign Ministry, the person Russia is thinking about is Yevhen Murayev, a former Ukrainian MP who has on multiple occasions argued for the legitimacy of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
It is unusual for a government to make such accusations publicly, demonstrating the strong tensions of recent weeks with the Russia of numerous Western European countries and the United States, which are increasingly seeing a Russian invasion of Ukraine as concrete and realistic. However, the allegations are not very substantiated and have caused several to be raised doubts on their reliability.
British Foreign Minister, Liz Truss, he said: «The information we disseminate today [sabato sera, ndr] they show how extensive Russia’s activities are aimed at overthrowing Ukraine, and are a way of understanding how the Kremlin thinks ». Truss then asked Russia to avoid a dangerous escalation and to put an end to “campaigns of aggression and disinformation, returning to the path of diplomacy”.
In addition to Murayev, the British Foreign Office has cited four other Ukrainian politicians, accused of having close ties with the Russian secret services. Some of these would have collaborated actively for the definition of an invasion plan. Among them is Mykola Azarov, deputy prime minister during the pro-Russian presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, which ended with the 2014 revolution. Azarov then moved to Russia where he tried to form a government in exile.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has rejected the accusations, accusing the British government of “circulating false news” and asking to stop “the spread of nonsense” and the use of “provocative activities”.
Muraev commented the news saying that the UK government “seems to be confused”: “It doesn’t make much sense to me. I am banned in Russia. Not only that, they also confiscated the money from my father’s business activities ». Murayev owns a few TV channels and in 2019 he had lost his seat in Parliament, after a disappointing result in his party’s elections.
In the last period, the government of Russia has amassed over 100,000 soldiers and equipment along the border with Ukraine. The secret services of Ukraine and various Western countries believe that the Russian government could decide to invade Ukrainian territory in the first months of 2022, despite the diplomatic efforts carried out so far to avoid a military operation.
The Russia care that it is planning an invasion, but its president, Vladimir Putin, is demanding that NATO withdraw its troops from Bulgaria, Romania and the other former Communist states of Eastern Europe that joined NATO after 1997, in addition to giving up to bring Ukraine into the organization. The United States is calling for the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of Russian soldiers massed on the Ukrainian eastern border. The proposals appear to be considered inadmissible by both sides and the situation appears increasingly worrying.
The United States has authorized Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to transfer Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukrainian forces, and has stepped up arms deliveries to Ukraine. Russia sent new troops and armaments to Belarus, a Russian ally and neighbor of Ukraine, arguing that the movements were justified by a joint military exercise with the Belarusian army.
NATO countries argue that a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine would entail “enormous costs” for Russia, but it is not yet clear what they plan to do depending on the attack.