Washington: The United States is concerned by claims made by the British foreign office saying that Moscow allegedly plans to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, Emily Horne, the spokeswoman for the US National Security Council, said.
The British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a Saturday statement that the Russian government was "looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kiev" and that former Ukrainian parliament member Yevhen Murayev was being considered as a "potential candidate."
The UK foreign ministry also claimed that Russian intelligence was maintaining contact with numerous former Ukrainian politicians including Ukraine's ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. No evidence was provided to support any of the claims.
"This kind of plotting is deeply concerning. The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically-elected partners in Ukraine," Horne said in a Saturday statement, as quoted by The New York Times.
Commenting on the UK allegations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that "the disinformation spread by the British Foreign Office is yet another evidence that it is the NATO countries ...that are escalating tensions around Ukraine." The ministry called on the UK to "halt provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense."
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier on Saturday that Moscow expected military and informational provocations from the West and Ukraine on the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
On Thursday, the US State Department issued two fact sheets alleging that Russia was spreading disinformation to paint Ukraine as an aggressor and to blame the West for pushing Kiev into a conflict with Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the US documents did not withstand the slightest criticism, since no specific facts to support the allegations were presented.
Zakharova said that the fact sheets can be regarded as propaganda since they were published on the eve of the Russia-US meeting in Geneva to promote a specific information agenda.
In the past few months, the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of amassing troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for invasion. Russia said it has no intention of invading Ukraine while stressing that it has the right to move forces within its own territory.
Russia has also expressed concern over NATO's military activity near its borders and the ongoing military support for Ukraine, including an increase in the number of Western instructors in Ukraine's southeast (Donbas).