Zelenskiy says Ukraine foils coup plot involving Russians; The Kremlin denies its role

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a press conference following the Ukraine-EU summit in Kiev, Ukraine, October 12, 2021. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko / File Photo

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KYIV, Nov. 26 (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that Ukraine uncovered a plot to overthrow its government next week involving Russian nationals, though he declined to say whether he believed the Kremlin was behind it all.

Speaking at an hour-long press conference, Zelenskiy said the Ukrainian secret service had obtained audio recordings of plotters, including people from Russia, trying to get business tycoon Rinat Akhmetov to go. join in a coup.

The Kremlin quickly denied any role in a coup plot, saying it had no intention of taking part in such acts. A spokesperson for Akhmetov, the richest man in Ukraine, did not immediately comment.

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“We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation – we have big internal challenges. I have received reports that a coup will take place in our country on December 1 and 2. “Zelenskiy said.

Zelenskiy was speaking amid mounting tensions between Ukraine and Russia that raised fears that a latent conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists could escalate into open war between the two neighbors.

Ukrainian sovereign dollar bonds fell to their lowest level in more than a year on Friday, and the cost of insuring the country’s debt exposure soared amid growing security concerns .

Zelenskiy did not give full details of the coup plot. When asked explicitly if he thought the Kremlin was involved, he replied: “I’m sorry, I can’t talk about it.”

But he also spoke at length at the press conference about a threat of Russian military escalation, and said Ukraine would be ready for it.

Russia has built up forces near its border with Ukraine. Kiev, the United States and NATO have expressed concerns over a possible Russian attack in recent days – a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as bogus and fear-mongering.

“We are in full control of our borders and are fully prepared for any escalation,” Zelenskiy said.

The Ukrainian military intelligence chief told the Military Times newspaper last week that Russia had more than 92,000 troops massed around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack by late January or early February.

Ukraine, which is keen to join the NATO military alliance, received a large batch of US ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, drawing criticism from Moscow.

Zelenskiy also said his chief of staff Andriy Yermak would soon contact Russian officials about the standoff between the two countries. Separately, Yermak said he would contact senior Kremlin official Dmitry Kozak.

Russia has said it suspects Ukraine of wanting to take back by force territory controlled by the separatists. Zelenskiy said Ukraine has no such plans and added that Russia’s rhetoric on NATO enlargement – Ukraine hopes to join the Western alliance, a measure Moscow opposes. firmly – was a disturbing signal.

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Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk Writing by Matthias Williams Editing by Peter Graff

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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