Russia warns of ‘false flag’ attack on US diplomats
The Russian military claims it has uncovered a plot by Ukrainian hardline nationalist groups to target the diplomatic facilities of the US and other Western nations in the Ukrainian city of Lvov. The alleged discovery was announced by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov during a media briefing on Saturday.
Washington and many other Western states moved their embassy staff to Lvov shortly before Russia launched its military attack last month. The city, regarded as a hotbed of Ukrainian nationalism, is about 500km (300 miles) west of the capital, Kiev, and just 50km (30 miles) from the Polish border.
The information on the supposed plot was provided by an officer from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), whom Moscow says voluntarily surrendered to Russian forces.
“The officer was directly involved in the organizing and training of sabotage and terrorist groups to work in areas liberated from the nationalists,” Konashenkov stated, adding that the individual had given the Russian military a list of SBU agents involved in such activities.
“I’d like to stress that the Kiev regime is fully aware of the plans harbored by the nationalists, but is doing nothing to prevent them,” he added.
The ultimate goal of the alleged attacks is to blame Moscow for them, using the incidents as leverage to push the NATO countries into providing more weaponry and establishing a long-demanded no-fly zone over the country, Konashenkov claimed.
Moscow launched a large-scale offensive against its neighboring country last month, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk ceasefire agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to regularize the status of the breakaway regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the NATO military bloc. Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebel republics by force.