(Moscow) President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday accused Western intelligence of being involved in “terrorist” attacks in Russia, after giving a chilly welcome to the new US ambassador to Moscow.
His Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky was meanwhile in Warsaw for an official visit during which Poland promised to ask for additional security guarantees to be given to Ukraine at the next NATO summit scheduled for this summer in Vilnius. , the capital of Lithuania.
“There is every reason to believe” that the capabilities of third countries and Western secret services are “involved in the preparation of acts of sabotage and terrorism”, both in Ukrainian territories controlled by Moscow and in Russia, has Putin said during a televised meeting of his Security Council.
Sitting alongside Russia’s installed rulers of the four Ukrainian regions it has claimed for annexation in 2022, the Russian president accused Kyiv of committing “serious crimes against the civilians living there, sparing no one” in those territories. .
Mr. Putin ordered the Russian security forces to “do everything in their power to ensure the safety of the local population”.
A few hours after the intervention of the Head of State, the Russian security services (FSB) announced the arrest of a Ukrainian pilot, whose small plane crashed in an area bordering Ukraine.
“The plane crashed near the village of Butovsk in the Bryansk region for unknown reasons. The pilot (a Ukrainian citizen), who tried to flee to Ukrainian territory, was arrested by a unit of border guards,” they said.
Mr. Putin’s accusations also come three days after the death of a famous Russian military blogger, killed in a bomb attack in a cafe in Saint Petersburg (northwest).
Maxime Fomin, known for his fierce support for the Russian offensive in Ukraine, died after accepting a booby-trapped statuette from a young Russian, Daria Trepova, who was arrested and remanded in custody on Tuesday.
Moscow has accused Kyiv and “agents” of imprisoned opponent Alexei Navalny of being involved in the assassination. Ukrainian officials, for their part, considered that it was an internal settling of scores in the circles supporting the offensive in Russia.
Ukraine has previously been accused of several other targeted killings both in occupied regions and in Russia itself, as well as sabotage operations.
Russian Foreign Minister Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that the assassination of Maxim Fomin would be “one of the topics of discussion” at the UN Security Council, of which Russia took over the rotating presidency on Saturday. .
Hours earlier, Putin blasted the United States at a credentials ceremony in the Kremlin, attended by the US ambassador and the EU envoy.
Regretting a “deep crisis” in relations between Moscow and Washington, he questioned “US support” for the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which “ultimately led to the current Ukrainian crisis”.
He then accused the European Union of having been “initiating a geopolitical confrontation with Russia”, noting that relations with the EU “have deteriorated sharply in recent years”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for his part made his first official visit to Poland on Wednesday since the start of the conflict with Russia.
Alongside him in Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda promised to try to “obtain for Ukraine […] additional security guarantees that will strengthen its military potential”.
Mr. Duda announced that his country was ready to deliver its entire fleet of Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighters to Kyiv “in the future”.
Mr. Zelensky once again expressed his country’s ambition to join NATO, an alliance hated by Moscow that Finland joined on Tuesday.
“I would like to say to our partners, who are constantly looking for compromises on our way to NATO, that Ukraine will be intransigent on this point,” he said.
Referring to the situation on the ground, the Ukrainian president claimed that “the enemy did not take control” of the devastated city of Bakhmout, in the east, epicenter of the fighting for months.
While Russian forces have slowly gained ground in recent weeks, he has so far ruled out any Ukrainian withdrawal from the city. “If there is a risk of losing personnel due to the siege, then, of course, there will be appropriate and correct decisions,” Zelensky said.