Ukraine accuses Russia of plotting unrest amid Crimea tensions

Ukraine on Friday accused Russia of planning to stoke further unrest as the international community sought to ease tensions

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Ukraine on Friday accused Russia of planning to stoke further unrest as the international community sought to ease tensions after the two sides ramped up security around the disputed Crimean peninsula.

Russia’s FSB security service said on Wednesday it had thwarted “terrorist attacks” in Crimea this week by Ukrainian military intelligence and beaten back armed assaults, claims Kiev has fiercely denied.

Both sides have since stepped up security in the peninsula, whose annexation by Moscow in 2014 saw relations plunge to a post-Cold War nadir and served as the prelude to armed conflict between pro-Russian rebels and government troops in Ukraine’s east.

“The enemy is planning large-scale provocative actions through the contact line in Ukraine’s east and then will accuse Ukraine of not complying with the Minsk agreements,” Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate said in a statement, referring to a peace deal signed in the Belarusian capital in February 2015.

It also accused Russia of boosting its forces, replenishing its munitions and building up military hardware in the war-scarred east.

Ukraine’s security service on Friday raised the terrorist threat level to the highest in Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting government troops for more than two years. Moscow said that Kiev’s alleged attempts at armed incursions into Crimea saw a Russian security service officer killed in clashes while arresting “terrorists” overnight August 6-7.

A Russian soldier also died in a firefight with “sabotage-terrorist” groups sent by the Ukrainian military on August 8, Moscow claimed.

Ukraine’s national security council chief Oleksandr Turchynov on Friday dismissed the claims, saying Moscow was trying to cover up deadly shootouts between Russian forces “who traditionally abuse alcohol.”

During a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday, Ukraine asked Russia to provide evidence to back its accusations, which President Petro Poroshenko had called “senseless and cynical.”

Putin said a mooted meeting with Poroshenko and mediators German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande at next month’s G20 summit in China was now “senseless”.

A German government official told AFP on Thursday that Putin’s rejection of a four-way summit on Ukraine was a “sign that Russia is less and less counting on a political solution to the crisis.”

The French foreign ministry said Thursday that minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov France and Germany would “continue efforts aimed at implementing the Minsk agreements in the Normandy format,” which includes the four countries.

The United States also called on both sides to show restraint, with State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau saying Thursday that Washington was “extremely concerned”.

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