Russia’s Federal Security Service accused intelligence agents at the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense of plotting terror attacks in Crimea on Wednesday, the latest sign of deteriorating conditions in the region.
The Federal Security Service said in a statement on its website that it had prevented terror attacks planned by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, according to a translation provided by the Interpreter and multiple Russian state news reports.
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"The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation has prevented the commission in the Republic of Crimea of terrorist acts prepared by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the objectives of which were critically-important elements of the peninsula’s infrastructure and life support," the statement read, according to the translation.
"The aim of the sabotage and terrorist acts is the destabilization of the social-poitical situation in the region during the period of the preparation of elections to federal and regional governmental bodies," the statement continued. Russian parliamentary elections are due to take place on September 18.
A spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence told Reuters that the accusations were "fake information."
The accusation comes as fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces continues to destabilize Ukraine. Fighting has recently picked up in eastern areas of the country, despite a failed ceasefire agreement established last year. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 after intervening militarily in the region. Russia was slapped with international sanctions for its actions in Ukraine. The United States and the European Union do not recognized Crimea as Russian territory.
The Federal Security Service said that it had conducted "operational search activities" on Saturday night in the town of Armyansk, which is located in Crimea, leading to the discovery of a "group of saboteurs." A Russian officer was shot dead during the arrest of the "terrorists," according to the statement. Russian officials allegedly found improvised explosive devises and other weapons at the scene of the arrest.
Russia also said that "diversionary terrorist groups" from special forces divisions within Ukraine’s defense ministry attempted two other attacks on Monday night that were thwarted by Russian security and defense officials. A Russian soldier was killed in a "firefight" that ensued. Russia said it has opened a criminal case into the matter and taken steps to protect "critically important infrastructure" in Crimea and reinforce the border with Ukraine.
This post will be updated as further information becomes available.