Ukrainian president alleges Russia-backed coup planned next week
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday said his country has uncovered a plot for an alleged coup due to take place next week with possible Russian involvement – warning Moscow he is prepared for “escalation.”
“I received information that a coup d’etat will take place in our country on Dec. 1-2,” Zelensky said during a press conference, admitting the country is facing big internal challenges.
The president then blasted Russia, accusing the country of sending “very dangerous” signals, as Western governments have also sounded the alarm on a Russian troop build-up near the Ukrainian border.
“There is a threat today that there will be war tomorrow. We are entirely prepared for an escalation,” Zelensky told reporters. “We need to depend on ourselves, on our army — it is powerful.”
However, Zelensky said Ukraine would not launch a military offensive in the eastern Donbas conflict.
“I think that those political forces that today say that we need to go to war — they do not seem to me to represent and do not think about anyone,” he said, Reuters reported.
The Ukrainian president did not provide details of the alleged plot and did not directly accuse the Russian state of involvement, but he cited audio recordings about the coup that allegedly included the voices of people from Russia.
He said the recordings of an alleged meeting between Russian and Ukrainian officials discussed a plan for a coup allegedly funded by Ukraine’s richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, whose fortune is estimated at $7.5 billion.
“He is being drawn into this war. I believe he has begun it and I believe that this is a big mistake,” Zelensky said.
The Kremlin promptly denied any role in a coup plot, saying it had no plans to take part in such an act.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegations in comments to journalists in Moscow on Friday.
“Russia had no plans to get involved,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Russia never does such things at all.”
Kiev, Washington and NATO have expressed concerns in recent days about a possible Russian attack — a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as false while the country has been amassing troops near its border with Ukraine.
Moscow and Kiev have traded blame for spiking tensions amid fears that a long-running conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists could erupt into renewed open warfare.
Last week, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told the Military Times that Russia had more than 92,000 troops amassed around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack by the end of January or the beginning of February.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned Russia earlier this week that it will “pay dearly” for an invasion.
Ukraine, which wants to join NATO, received a large consignment of American ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, prompting criticism from Moscow.
With Post wires