—Civilians start joining Ukraine’s army reserves
—Moscow accused of meddling in Kiev’s affairs
—Berlin blamed for backing Russian plan to invade Ukraine
—German Navy Chief resigns over Ukraine comments
KIEV: Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops near the Ukraine border, triggering the worst security crisis to emerge between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
The West, led by the US, has thrown its weight behind Ukraine, which lost control of its Crimean Peninsula when Russia annexed it in 2014.
The Kremlin has justified its military muscle-flexing as an attempt to counter decades of NATO expansion in the region. Russia has demanded legally binding guarantees that the NATO alliance will not embrace Ukraine and other former Soviet nations, or place weapons there. It also wants NATO to pull back its forces from countries in Central and Eastern Europe that joined the alliance since the 1990s.
Russia has also been accused of backing armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has left more than 13,000 people dead in nearly eight years of fighting. A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale battles, but a political settlement has stalled, and frequent skirmishes have continued along the tense line of contact.
In early 2021, a spike in ceasefire violations in the east and a Russian troop concentration near Ukraine ignited the invasion fears, but tensions abated when Moscow pulled back the bulk of its forces after manoeuvres in April.
The military buildup near Ukraine resumed in late 2021, with Ukrainian and Western officials warning that the increased troop concentration could herald a multipronged Russian attack.
Meanwhile, The UK has accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine grow.
The Foreign Office said in a statement Russian intelligence officers had been in contact with a number of former Ukrainian politicians as part of plans for an invasion and that former parliamentarian Yevgen Murayev was being considered as a potential leader.
“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,” said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
“Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy.”
The British foreign ministry did not provide evidence to back its accusations.
Russia will face severe economic sanctions if it installs a “puppet regime” in Ukraine, Britain’s deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday.
“There’ll be very serious consequences if Russia takes this move to try and invade but also install a puppet regime,” Raab told Sky News.
Moreover, The head of the German navy has resigned over controversial comments he made over Ukraine.
Kay-Achim Schönbach said the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine was nonsense. He added that all President Vladimir Putin wanted was respect.
A number of countries have supplied weapons to Ukraine, including the US and UK. But Germany has refused Ukraine’s request for ammunition.
Russia has denied claims that it is planning to invade Ukraine.
But President Putin has issued demands to the West which he says concern Russia’s security, including that Ukraine be stopped from joining the military defence alliance Nato.
He also wants Nato to abandon military exercises and stop sending weapons to eastern Europe, seeing this as a direct threat to Russia’s security.