Putin looking to install a pro-Moscow puppet leader in Ukraine in plot uncovered by MI6 as he considers invading and occupying the country, Liz Truss claims
- Pro-Russian Yevhen Murayev set to run Ukraine in case of a full-scale invasion
- MI6 uncovered Russian premier Vladimir Putin’s plot according to Liz Truss
- News comes as more than 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery amass on border
- Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will meet Ben Wallace for crunch talks
British intelligence has discovered a plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin to install a pro-Moscow puppet leader in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss revealed yesterday.
As Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a ‘large-scale war’ after Moscow massed more than 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery pieces along his border, Ms Truss said that Yevhen Murayev was being lined up to run the country as a satellite of Moscow.
Former Ukrainian MP Mr Murayev has defended Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
It came as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu agreed to meet his UK counterpart Ben Wallace in Moscow for emergency talks after Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood warned an invasion of Ukraine was ‘imminent’ and that President Putin was ‘exploiting Western weakness’.
Ms Truss said the Foreign Office had established that the Russian government was looking to install a pro- Russian leader in Kiev as it ‘considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine’, and that Russian intelligence officers involved in the planning for an attack were in contact with sympathetic politicians in the country.
Former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev is being lined up to run the country as a satellite of Moscow, MI6 intelligence has warned
As Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a ‘large-scale war’ after Moscow massed more than 100,000 troops, tanks and artillery pieces along his border, Liz Truss said that Mr Murayev was being lined up to run the country as a satellite of Moscow
The Foreign Secretary added: ‘The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking.
‘Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy.
‘As the UK and our partners have said repeatedly, any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with severe costs.’
Mr Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, warned that Mr Putin was ‘redrawing the map of eastern Europe’ and ‘it’s so important that we step forward’.
Russia has denied it is planning an invasion, but Vladimir Putin has issued demands to the West which he says concern Russia’s security, including not allowing Ukraine to join Nato
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu (left) has agreed to meet UK counterpart Ben Wallace (right) in Moscow for emergency talks over the Ukraine crisis. A senior defence source said Mr Wallace ‘has been clear that that he will explore all avenues to achieve stability and a resolution to the Ukraine crisis’ during the talks and that his office was ‘in communication with the Russian government’
Russia has denied it is planning an invasion, but Mr Putin has issued demands to the West which he says concern Russia’s security, including not allowing Ukraine to join Nato.
He also wants Nato to abandon military exercises in the region and to stop sending weapons to eastern Europe.
Boris Johnson is expected to ramp up the pressure on Russia this week by calling for European countries to join forces with the US in the face of increasing aggression and pushing for a ‘gear change’ on the Ukraine situation.
British intelligence analysts, officials and ambassadors have been tasked by No10 with driving forward a package of economic measures to debilitate Russia’s economy should the situation deteriorate further.
It follows the delivery of lethal aid to Ukraine this week, including 2,000 missiles and a specialist team of military trainers.
A No 10 source said: ‘The Prime Minister’s view is that the situation in Ukraine is the biggest test to the unity and resolve of the West and Nato in decades.
‘It would be frankly naive to assume that Russia could be mollified by changes to the European security architecture – the Kremlin’s behaviour has made that consistently clear.
A convoy of Russian armoured vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Ukraine today condemned Germany for its refusal to supply weapons to Kyiv, urging Berlin to stop ‘undermining unity’ and ‘encouraging Vladimir Putin’ amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu in Moscow for talks to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis as the country’s servicemen (pictured, Russian troops take part in military drills in Rostov in southern Russia, less than 70 miles from the Ukrainian frontier) take part in drills along the border amid fears of an invasion
‘The UK is working through Nato and in lockstep with the US to enact a policy of dialogue and deterrence, pursuing the diplomatic track but readying a package of sanctions that will pierce the heart of Russia’s economy should that fail.
‘He is very clear that countries must be free to choose their own futures.
‘The PM regards the situation as gravely dangerous. His resolve has hardened since the last call with President Putin in December, but he regards Western unity as key.
‘The whole of Whitehall is ramping up preparations.’
Ms Truss also warned that China may use a Russian invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to act aggressively against Hong Kong and Taiwan.
She said: ‘I don’t think we can rule that out. Russia is working more closely with China than ever. Aggressors are working in concert, and it’s incumbent on countries like ours to work together.’
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