Russia is dismissing a British claim that Moscow is looking to replace the Ukrainian government with pro-Russia officials, calling the suggestion “misinformation.”
“The disinformation spread by the British Foreign Office is more evidence that it is the NATO countries, led by the Anglo-Saxons, who are escalating tensions around Ukraine,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Sunday on the messaging service Telegram, according to The Associated Press.
“We call on the British Foreign Office to stop provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense,” she added.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office issued a statement earlier in the day claiming to have information indicating that the Russian government is looking to put a pro-Moscow leader in power in Kyiv.
The office said information it obtained shows that the Russian intelligence service maintains connections with a number of former Ukrainian politicians, including former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who served between 2010 and 2014.
Former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevhen Murayev is being looked at as a potential candidate to lead the country, according to the British government.
The British report and Russia’s subsequent denial come amid increased tensions in the region. Moscow has amassed more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine. The U.S. and other allied nations are concerned that Moscow may invade Kyiv.
President Biden, during his marathon press conference on Wednesday, told reporters he believes Russia will “move in.” Moscow, however, has denied reports that it is planning an invasion.
National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said the British claim is “deeply disturbing,” emphasizing that the Ukrainians have a right to defend themselves.
“This kind of plotting is deeply concerning,” Horne said, according to the AP. “The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically-elected partners in Ukraine.”