Confusion over British claim that Putin is planning a coup in Ukraine | Ukraine
The Foreign Office said it had exposed evidence of a plot to install a pro-Moscow government in Ukraine, and Boris Johnson vowed to ‘step up the pressure on Russia’ amid his own troubles internal politics worsened.
Saturday’s rare reference to intelligence gathering gave almost no details of a plot that, if correct, could mean a serious escalation of the threat against Ukraine. Politicians there were skeptical that the government could be replaced without a full-scale invasion of the capital, Kiev.
The Foreign Ministry also said it had information on former Ukrainian politicians who had ties to Russian intelligence, and listed five men. “Some of them have contacts with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in planning an attack,” the statement added.
However, four of the five men live in exile in Moscow, making their ties to Russian leaders less a matter of subterfuge than public knowledge.
The Foreign Office’s claims were further confounded when the man it named as a ‘potential candidate’ as Moscow’s presidential pick told the Observer he would make an unlikely candidate for the top position. puppet government for Moscow.
“You made my night. The UK Foreign Office seems confused,” former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev said with a laugh. “It’s not very logical. I am banned from Russia. Not only that, but my father’s business money there was confiscated.
The Foreign Office statement was followed by an intervention from No 10 that Johnson ‘pushed for a shift in gears on the situation in Ukraine’, after a period when his government appeared to take a step back on diplomacy international community around this issue, while struggling against heavy political pressure. anti-lockdown party challenges.
While US President Joe Biden and a host of European leaders have made a series of interventions on Ukraine over the past week, the prime minister has largely avoided the recent wave of diplomacy aimed at averting war. Last week, as high-level talks took place across Europe, UK defense and foreign secretaries Ben Wallace and Liz Truss were both in Australia.
“It is striking that in this week of acute tension in Europe, the prime minister seems to have been absent from high-level Ukrainian diplomacy, and the foreign minister managed to find himself in the wrong hemisphere,” said said Peter Ricketts, former national security official. adviser and former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In Ukraine, Vasyl Filipchuk, a former Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman who now heads a think tank, called the British conspiracy claims “ridiculous”. Even a rigged election would not bring power to pro-Russian actors, and trying to install them by force would mean a very long and bloody fight, he claimed.
“This scenario would only work with a full-fledged invasion taking over Kiev,” he said. “The city would be decimated, its lands burned and a million people would flee. We have 100,000 people in the capital with weapons, who are going to fight… There may be a plan but that’s bullshit.
Prominent Russian TV journalist Yevgeny Kiselyov, who moved to Ukraine in 2008, said mainstream opposition figures who oppose Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would never talk to Russian spy agencies, too. unhappy with the current government in Kiev.
Russian intelligence services used to tell the Kremlin what they wanted to hear, rather than objective reality, he added.
The Foreign Office statement sounded plausible but contained no obvious new information, analysts and regional experts in the UK said, given that Moscow has massed troops near the border and is not hiding its displeasure with the current government of the country.
A Foreign Office spokesman declined to answer questions about whether the British government had details of the timetable or method Russia intended to use to change leadership in Kyiv.
The scarcity of details about the plot and the sudden diplomatic push after a period on the fringes of the international community risked leaving Johnson exposed to accusations that he is exploiting a volatile international crisis to shore up his own standing at home.
“It is unfortunate that we have found ourselves in a situation where our ability to respond to what Putin is doing is damaged by the wounds we have politically inflicted on ourselves over a period of years dating back to 2003,” said David Clark, a former special adviser. at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It is not a government well placed to take the lead on this issue, either in terms of domestic opinion, or frankly, in terms of broader Western unity given the context of Brexit,” he said. -he adds.
“The current immediate national context is one of a struggling government, a government that has a proven record, frankly, of engineering sensational media interventions in order to divert attention and deflect its own troubles.”