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On Tuesday, Russian officials accused the Ukrainian intelligence service of plotting to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the Federal Security Service in Russia, the alleged plot was uncovered during the arrest of Ukrainian national Yevgeniy Panov and two Russian citizens, Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeniy Yerofeyev, who were found to be linked to the Ukrainian Security Service.
The plot allegedly took place in the southern region of Russia, in the Russian-controlled breakaway state of Crimea. The region is a frequent target of Ukrainian-Russian tensions that have been escalating since Ukrainian forces took back the annexed peninsula in 2014.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry responded to the alleged plot by denying involvement, stating they had no knowledge of the plan. “We consider it an attempt by the Russian Federation to draw attention away from the growing international isolation and protests of its citizens,” the ministry said in a statement.
The alleged plot is the latest development in Ukraine-Russia relations, which have become increasingly hostile since their conflict began in 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued a statement Tuesday in which he condemned the alleged assassination attempt and demanded sanctions against Russia for its violations of international law.
Russia has not released any evidence to support its allegation, further calling into question the credibility of the claims. At this point, it is not clear if the suspected plot was real or merely a ploy to divert attention from Russia’s deteriorating international relationships.
No matter the outcome, the alleged assassination plot has led to further deterioration in the already-tense relations between the two countries. It will be interesting to see if this accusation leads to further increases in tension between Ukraine and Russia in the future.