Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday alleged that his country's intelligence service has uncovered plans for a Russia-backed coup d'etat in Ukraine next week, something which the Russian government denied.
At a news conference in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, Zelenskyy said he had received information that a coup was being planned for next Wednesday or Thursday.
He did not give many details to back up his allegation but pointed to a suspected role of Ukraine's richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov.
The president said that Ukrainian intelligence has audio recordings of an alleged meeting between Russian and Ukrainian officials discussing a plan for a coup allegedly funded by 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, Ukraine's president said.
Zelenskyy refused to disclose further details about the alleged coup, saying only that he doesn't plan to flee from the country.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegations in comments to journalists in Moscow on Friday.
Russia had no plans to get involved," Peskov said. "Russia never does such things at all.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed concern that a Russian military buildup near Ukraine could signal plans by Moscow to invade its ex-Soviet neighbour. The Kremlin insists it has no such intention and has accused Ukraine and its Western backers of making the claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs.
Zelenskyy said Ukraine has full control of its borders and is ready for any escalation of the conflict with Russia, noting, however, that the media are engaged in fearmongering over the possibility of such a conflict.
He also said that the head of his office, Andriy Yermak, will soon be in contact with the Russian authorities at the request of the European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
They want contacts between our administration and the Russian administration. I think that in the near future Yermak will contact them. We are absolutely not against this, Zelenskyy said. (AP) RS 11261951