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Russia rejects UK’s ‘comical’ disinformation over Ukraine, urges London to ‘stop spreading nonsense'

Ukrainian forces train in the capital, Kiev, on January 22, 2022, amid escalating tensions with Russia. (Photo by AP)

The Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed “disinformation” from Britain after London accused Moscow of trying to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, saying NATO members are escalating tensions with Russia.

“Disinformation circulated by @FCDOGovUK is yet another indication that it is the @NATO Members led by the Anglo-Saxon nations who are escalating tensions around #Ukraine,” the ministry said in a tweet on Sunday morning.

“We urge the [UK's] Foreign Office to stop spreading nonsense,” it added.

In a statement released on Saturday, the British Foreign Office claimed to have “information that indicates the Russian government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kiev as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine.”

“The former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev is being considered as a potential candidate,” it said, without providing any evidence to back the claim.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the information “shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking.”

She urged Russia to “de-escalade, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy,” warning that any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a “massive strategic mistake with severe costs.”

The British accusations come at a time of high tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. Moscow has clarified that it has no plans to invade its western neighbor. It has also censured NATO’s military buildup in Ukraine near its borders.

Russia slams ‘stupid rhetorical provocations’

The Russian embassy in London also strongly criticized Britain for “a series of provocative statements” on the situation around Ukraine.

“Sidelined by its short-sighted policy from the real diplomatic processes, Britain sees its role in constantly stoking anti-Russian sentiments,” the embassy said in a statement on Sunday.

It explained, “The logic is simple: let no day pass without accusing Russia of preparing an ‘imminent’ invasion of Ukraine, and, on this concocted ‘basis’, try to play the ideological leader of the ‘free world’ defending itself from ‘autocrats'.”

The embassy further lamented an “obvious deterioration of British expertise on Russia and Ukraine,” saying the accusation that Russia is seeking to establish a puppet regime in Kiev led by a former Ukrainian MP is ridiculous since the person is under Russian sanctions for being a threat to the country’s national security.

“Comical as these are, now is not the time for laughing,” the Russian embassy said.

“We are resolutely calling upon London to stop the stupid rhetorical provocations, quite dangerous in the current heated situation, and to contribute to the genuine diplomatic efforts aimed at ensuring reliable guarantees of European security,” it added.

The UK also threatened Russia with severe economic sanctions if it goes ahead with the alleged scheme.

“There’ll be very serious consequences if Russia takes this move to try and invade, but also install a puppet regime,” Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday.

Murayev, 45, poured cold water on Britain’s claims that Moscow intends to install him as Ukraine’s leader, calling for an end to dividing Ukraine into pro-Western and pro-Russian politicians.

“The time of pro-Western and pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine is gone forever,” he said in a Facebook post on Sunday, adding, “Ukraine needs new politicians whose policy will be based solely on the principles of the national interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”

US-NATO provocations

Meanwhile, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, once again brought up the military buildup near Russian borders, saying the US and NATO are increasing their military presence in Ukraine step by step.

“Hysterical and groundless rhetoric,” Ulyanov said in a tweet, responding to anti-Russian accusations and threats by US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.

“The Russian troops are deployed on the Russian territory while the #US and some other #NATO countries pump up #Ukraine with lethal weapons and increase step by step their military presence in Ukraine,” he added.

Mick Wallace, an outspoken member of the European Parliament, said the US has been driving a wedge between the European Union and Russia and making the EU irrelevant in the process.

“EU High Representative @JosepBorrellF said that ‘It is in the interest of #Russia to divide the Western World + to take the #US + #EuropeanUnion apart’ but that's exactly what US have been doing - driving a wedge between EU + Russia - making the #EU irrelevant in the process...” Wallace tweeted.

The US and NATO accuse Russia of planning to invade Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly brushed off the allegations as “fake news.”

The US and UK’s latest provocations against Russia come while American and Russian diplomats have failed to make a major breakthrough in talks to solve the crisis over Ukraine, although they agreed to continue the talks.

Russia has demanded legally binding guarantees from NATO that it will halt its eastward expansion and return to its 1997 borders. It also demands that the military alliance rule out admitting Ukraine as a member.

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