Volodymyr Zelensky: Ukrainian President Says Russian-Supported Coup Sought in December | International

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured this Friday that his intelligence agencies had discovered that a coup attempt supported by “representatives of Russia” was preparing for December 1 and 2. The Ukrainian leader has avoided giving details of the alleged plan and clarifying whether and how the Kremlin is directly involved in the coup attempt. At a press conference in Kiev, Zelensky also assured that the powerful Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, with whom he has very strained relations, was drawn into the plot. The commentary on the preparations for a coup further escalates tension in the region, already on alert for the concentration of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine.

The Kremlin rushed Friday to deny any involvement in the alleged coup plan. “Russia has no plan for such participation. Russia never takes part in such events, ”said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In recent weeks, observers and analysts like veteran Volodymyr Fesenko have warned not only against Moscow’s military mobilization but also against another possible hybrid warfare formula in which Russia attempts to provoke an acute crisis with a change of power. in Ukraine, a country of 44 million inhabitants. inhabitants among the poorest in Europe.

“We have challenges not only from Russia and a possible escalation, we have great internal challenges,” Zelensky said. “I have received information that a coup will take place in our country on December 1 and 2,” added the Ukrainian president, who claims to have “solid information” about the plot “of Ukrainians. “and” representatives of Russia “. discuss the oligarch Ajmetoven’s involvement in the plot. “I believe that [el magnate] he may not know it, ”Zelenski stressed. Through his spokesperson, the businessman assured the Interfax agency that the accusations were “a complete lie”.

In recent months, the Ukrainian president has targeted Akhmetov and other top businessmen in the country with an “anti-oligarchy law” that seeks to deprive the country’s richest tycoons of power, but has also received criticism from some experts, who believe that this may give too much power to the National Defense and Security Council, which, although the law in hand, will decide who is considered an oligarch. Ajmetov owns the largest private electricity company in the country and has a large holding company – mining, insurance, finance – most in eastern Ukraine, a football team – Shakhtar Donetsk – and an empire. Communication.

Ajmetov’s channels have shifted in recent weeks from friendly coverage to much more critical of President Zelensky, a former comedian who came to the presidency in 2019 with a speech against elites and corruption and who has vowed to resolve the conflict. of Donbass against pro-Russian separatists, who receive economic and military support from the Kremlin. In recent months, the popularity of Zelenski, who won 73% in the presidential elections two years ago – his party, the Servant of the People, also obtained an unprecedented majority in the legislative elections – has suffered.

In a marathon meeting with reporters, Zelensky spoke at length on Friday about the threat of Russian military escalation and assured that Ukraine had developed and improved its military in recent years and would be ready for it. “We have full control of our borders and are fully prepared for any escalation,” Zelenski said. According to information from the United States and the Kiev secret service, Russia has accumulated around 114,000 troops around its borders with Ukraine and on the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014 with a referendum deemed illegal by the international community and who stood with a Russian army. presence in the field.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg again warned this Friday against Russian mobilization and warned Moscow that any use of force against Ukraine would come at a high cost. Kiev consolidated its turn to the West in 2013, with pro-European mobilizations that led to the overthrow and flight of President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of the Kremlin. The country, which suffered from the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the Donbass war, wishes to join the Atlantic Alliance. And although its membership seems extremely distant, it is a clear red line for the Kremlin as it tries to keep Ukraine, another former Soviet republic, under its influence. Russia defends that NATO constitutes a threat, that it triggers provocations and that it has the right to move its troops as it sees fit.

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