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UK

The UK Foreign Office said in a statement that it has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine. The former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev is being considered as a potential candidate." The Foreign Office added that "the Russian intelligence services maintain links with numerous former Ukrainian politicians" including Serhiy Arbuzov, Andriy Kluyev, Vladimir Sivkovich, and Mykola Azarov.

  • UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab warned that there was a "very significant risk" that Russian forces would attack Ukraine. He told Sky News it would be "extremely unlikely" that the UK would send troops to Ukraine, but noted that "there will be very serious consequences if Russia takes this move to try and invade and also install a puppet regime."
  • The British Foreign Office declined to provide evidence of its claims, while a ministry source told Reuters that the information "had only been declassified after careful consideration to deter Russian aggression." Source reports suggested that the accusations were based on UK intelligence assessment.
  • Both Yevhen Murayev and Russia's Foreign Ministry denied accusations of their alleged involvement in a plot to replace the current Ukrainian government. Meanwhile, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that while Murayev seemed to be "too ridiculous a figure" to become a leader of a pro-Russian puppet state, the information provided by UK Foreign Office should be taken "as seriously as possible”.
  • The extraordinary release of information based on intelligence assessment the British Foreign Office represents London's intention to play a leading role in Western response to the security crisis unfolding on the Ukrainian border. Source reports circulated on Sunday suggest that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu accepted an invotation from his UK counterpart Ben Wallace to hold last-minute talks over the Ukrainian crisis.
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3806 | krzysztof.kruk@marketnews.com

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