London [UK], January 23 (ANI): The UK foreign office on Saturday said that it has information that Kremlin is planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine.
They said that the Russian government is planning to "install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine," reported CNN.
"The former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev is being considered as a potential candidate," the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.
Murayev told CNN Saturday "there is nothing to comment on" regarding the allegations, as he is a Ukrainian national and still facing Russian sanctions.
The UK foreign office went on to name four other former Ukrainian officials, saying, "We have information that the Russian intelligence services maintain links with numerous former Ukrainian politicians" including Serhiy Arbuzov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2012 to 2014, and acting Prime Minister in 2014; Andriy Kluyev, First Deputy Prime Minister from 2010 to 2012 and Chief of Staff to former Ukrainian President Yanukovich, Vladimir Sivkovich, former Deputy Head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (RNBO); Mykola Azarov, Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2010-2014.
"Some of these have contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine," the British foreign office statement added.
Meanwhile, Russia has denied allegations it is planning to attack Ukraine.
Early Sunday, Russia's foreign ministry urged the UK's foreign office to "stop engaging in provocations," state news agency TASS reported.
"The misinformation spread by the British Foreign Office is another evidence that these are the NATO countries, led by the Anglo-Saxons, that are escalating tensions around Ukraine. We call on the British Foreign Office to stop provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense and focus on studying the history of the Tatar-Mongol yoke," a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry told TASS.
Meanwhile, Romania and Bulgaria slammed Russia's demands to move NATO troops, reported CNN.
NATO members Romania and Bulgaria slammed Russia's demand to remove alliance troops from both countries as "unacceptable," with each arguing that the Kremlin has no right to interfere in the foreign policy decisions of other sovereign states.
The comments from both countries came just hours after Russia's Foreign Ministry confirmed its demand for NATO to pull back troops from parts of eastern Europe including Bulgaria and Romania.
The two countries are located on the Black Sea, which analysts believe Moscow sees as an important geostrategic buffer zone between itself and Europe.
Russia and NATO have been at loggerheads since late last year when the Kremlin deployed an estimated 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine.
The military posturing has prompted fears that Russia is planning another incursion into Ukraine after invading and illegally annexing the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
The United States and its NATO allies have repeatedly warned Russia any movement of its troops into Ukrainian territory would be met with what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called "a severe and a united response."
Diplomats from all sides have been attempting to negotiate a peaceful settlement, though one of Russia's core demands -- that NATO withdraws foreign military forces and equipment from members of the alliance who joined after 1997 -- was quickly deemed a non-starter by Western diplomats, reported CNN.
NATO members have, in recent days, deployed military equipment and personnel to eastern alliance members in response to Russia's troop build-up in Ukraine.
The US Embassy in Kyiv said Friday that the first shipment of American-directed materiel -- 200,000 pounds of lethal aid, including ammunition for fighters on the front lines -- has arrived in Ukraine.
Though US President Joe Biden ruled out sending American combat troops to Ukraine, Washington has approved the shipment of US-origin weapons to Kyiv -- including highly sought-after American anti-aircraft systems from Latvia and Lithuania. (ANI)