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Russia arrests suspected Ukraine spy in Black Sea Fleet

The file photo shows members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has arrested a serviceman from the country’s Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean city of Sevastopol over suspected espionage for Ukraine.

“The Russian Federation’s FSB detained in Sevastopol a serviceman of the Black Sea Fleet who provided the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Chief Directorate of Intelligence with information constituting state secret, which he collected,” the FSB said in a statement on Thursday.

The intelligence agency added that it had initiated a criminal case under the article of “high treason,” which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. It did not disclose the suspect’s name or rank in the fleet.

Relations between Moscow and Kiev have severely strained since 2014, when Crimea, a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea, joined Russia following a referendum where more than 90 percent of participants voted in favor of the move. Crimea’s population is largely ethnically Russian.

The United States and the European Union (EU) have since imposed several round of harsh sanctions on Russia.

Also since 2014, an armed conflict has been underway between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine, which has so far claimed some 13,000 lives. The clashes began when a wave of protests in Ukraine overthrew a democratically-elected Russia-friendly government and replaced it with a pro-West administration.

The majority of people in eastern Ukraine refused to endorse the new administration, and have turned the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk — collectively known as the Donbass — into self-proclaimed republics.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow denies the allegations.

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