BEIJING – Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been escalating as Russian
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday accused Kiev of plotting terrorist attacks
in Crimea and vowed to take additional measures to ensure the safety of
infrastructure and citizens there, reports China’s Xinhua news agency.
“The people who seized power in Kiev … have switched to terror tactics
instead of searching for ways for a peaceful settlement,” Putin told a news
“The attempt to provoke an outbreak of violence, to provoke a conflict is
nothing other than a desire to distract (Ukrainian) society from its problems,”
he added, calling Ukraine’s actions “criminal.”
“We will certainly do our utmost to ensure safety of infrastructure and
citizens…(and) those will be serious additional measures and more than that,”
However, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said “Russian accusations
towards Ukraine of terrorism in occupied Crimea sound as preposterous and
cynical as the statements of the Russian leadership about the absence of the
Russian troops in Donbass (region of Ukraine).”
Crimea, which was previously part of Ukraine, was incorporated into Russia
in 2014 following a referendum, which was recognised by Moscow but rejected by
Ukraine and Western powers.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian Federal Security Bureau (FSB) claimed
that the country has prevented a series of terrorist attacks in Crimea planned
by the Ukraine military intelligence service.
One officer died on the night between Aug 6 and Aug 7 during a clash with
saboteurs and another serviceman was killed on Aug 8, as Russian forces
prevented two attempts of the special units of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry to
penetrate Crimea from Ukraine which was covered by heavy shelling from the
Ukrainian side, Xinhua reported the FSB as saying in a statement.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council Secretary
Oleksandr Turchynov said the claims were “hysterical and false,” and the
Ukrainian Defense Ministry termed the allegations as Moscow’s attempt to justify
its re-deployment and actions in the region.
Ukraine will ask the UN Security Council to hold an urgent meeting if
tensions continue to rise over Russia’s accusations, Ukraine’s Ambassador
Volodymyr Yelchenko on Wednesday told reporters at the UN headquarters.
“The convening of the Security Council is being considered,” he said. “As
soon as it comes to the point, we will do it immediately.”
As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Ukraine has the right to
call a meeting on any matter considered to be a threat to international peace
Since Ukraine joined the council in January, it has held only one meeting
on the crisis in the country.
Ukraine, the US and European governments have long accused Russia of arming
and encouraging pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst has said Ukrainian security
forces have strengthened their military lines in eastern Ukraine and to the
north of Crimea.
A ceasefire was signed in Minsk in September 2014 and then in February
2015, with representatives from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany reaching a
new agreement in the Ukrainian capital.
However, fighting in the east between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian
rebels continues despite the peace deal.