Friday

24th Feb 2017

Russia allegation pretext to war, says Ukraine president

  • "We would never ever use terror to de-occupy Crimea," says Ukraine president (Photo: president.gov.ua)

Ukraine's president says Russia is using rhetoric to start a war, following allegations of a Kiev-led plot to retake Russian-annexed Crimea.

On Wednesday (10 August), Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said in a statement that Russian allegations were "a pretext for more military threats against Ukraine."

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Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) reported earlier this week that they had detained two armed Ukrainian intelligence officers over the weekend.

The Ukrainian officers are accused of attempted incursions in Crimea, described as "terrorists" and as "saboteurs" by their captors.

Russia also says it has dismantled a Ukraine military intelligence network in Crimea.

The FSB said "the aim of this subversive activity and terrorist acts was to destabilise the socio-political situation in the region ahead of preparations and the holding of elections."

Poroshenko said the FSB allegation is pure fantasy.

"Russian accusations that Ukraine launched terror attacks in the occupied Crimea are equally cynical and insane as its claims there is no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine," he said.

Russia annexed the peninsula in southern Ukraine in March 2014, triggering widespread condemnation and US and European sanctions against Moscow. Crimea had also voted to secede from Ukraine in March 2014 in a referendum largely panned by the international community.

The annexation followed a mass uprising in Ukraine against the Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted and then fled.

Fighting between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists from Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine then kicked off.

A peace agreement signed in Minsk earlier last year has so far failed to ease tensions.

Fighting is almost a daily occurrence between the two sides, some 9,500 people reported to have died so far.

Putin axes peace talks

Russia's president Vladimir Putin, for his part, said on Wednesday that next month's peace talk on the sideline of the Group of 20 meeting in China were now "pointless" given the FSB accusation.

Instead, Putin issued a warning.

“We will adopt additional security measures, and they will be very serious additional measures," he said.

International monitors from the OSCE, tasked to oversee the so-called ceasefire in Ukraine, on Wednesday reported numerous ceasefire violations and explosions on both sides in eastern Ukraine.

They also said border crossing points from Ukraine into the Crimean peninsula had been blocked.

A border shift commander told monitors that traffic from Crimea has not been allowed through on the Crimean side.

The OSCE monitors said "border guard personnel were on heightened alert, carrying assault rifles and continuously searching the area with binoculars".

EU trying to relaunch Ukraine peace process

Foreign ministers said the EU is ready to help with elections in Eastern Ukraine, while France and Germany are trying to bring back Russia to the negotiating table.

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