According to the statement, Russian secret services are in contact with several Ukrainian politicians, including some former ministers and former Prime Minister Mikola Azarov. Azarov resigned in January 2014, amid major pro-European protests in the country. Ultimately, those protests led to the departure of the then pro-Russian president, who later fled to Russia.
A White House spokesman called the British allegations “deeply disturbing”. Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the reports are “disinformation” and “evidence that it is precisely the NATO countries, under Anglo-Saxon leadership, are escalating tensions over Ukraine,” Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency said.
Russia has gathered tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine. Western countries fear a Russian invasion and have repeatedly warned President Putin of severe repercussions. Next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet with the leaders of the G7, the seven most powerful industrialized countries, about new sanctions against Russia. The Kremlin denies having any plans of attack, but wants NATO troops to withdraw from Eastern Europe.