Russia’s security service said Thursday it had detained several people in Crimea, accusing them of being saboteurs sent by Kiev to the Moscow-annexed peninsula to attack infrastructure targets.
Russia’s FSB security service on Wednesday “detained members of a sabotage-terrorist group from the main intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian defence ministry,” it said in a statement.
The group “planned to carry out acts of sabotage on objects of military and public infrastructure,” and had in its possession “powerful explosive devices, weapons, ammunition” and communication equipment, the FSB said.
Ukraine’s defence ministry dismissed the allegations in a statement on its website, calling them “yet another fake” report aimed at discrediting Kiev and covering up “repressive actions” against Crimeans critical of Moscow rule.
Moscow seized and annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014 and effectively made it part of Russian territory despite an outcry from the international community which was followed by sanctions.
Earlier this year, the FSB announced that it had thwarted “terrorist attacks” in Crimea, and Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered additional security measures.
Ukraine has dismissed the accusations of plotting attacks as “fantasies” concocted by Moscow to boost its military buildup and create a pretext for threatening Kiev.
Kiev is still fighting a pro-Russian insurgency in the eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, parts of which have declared independence. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in April 2014.