Europe

Russia warns Ukraine 'nationalists' preparing attacks against Western consulates in Lviv

Defense Ministry says Security Service of Ukraine plans attack to push NATO to intervene

Elena Teslova   | 20.03.2022
Russia warns Ukraine 'nationalists' preparing attacks against Western consulates in Lviv

MOSCOW

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed Saturday that a Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) officer who surrendered said his country is planning attacks on Western diplomatic missions in Lviv to push NATO to intervene in the war.

The attacks will be carried out by the far-right ultra-radical Azov battalion, fighting on the Ukrainian side, according to the officer, spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a news conference in Moscow.

"During a special military operation, an employee of the SBU main Directorate for Donetsk and Luhansk regions voluntarily surrendered to Russian servicemen,” he said. "The main purpose of the provocation is to increase pressure on NATO countries to introduce a ‘no-fly zone’ over Ukraine and provide additional weapons.”

Konashenkov said officials in Kyiv are aware of plans by Azov commanders but have not taken actions to stop them.

"The Kyiv nationalist regime plans to present attacks on diplomatic facilities of the United States and Western countries as an alleged ‘targeted attack by the Russian armed forces,’ he said.

Turning to the operation in Ukraine, he said Russian servicemen broke through the defense of another far-right battalion, Aidar, in eastern Ukraine, leaving 30 people dead, one tank, an armored vehicle and four all-terrain vehicles destroyed and now are fighting the 54 brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces on the Kashlagach River.

Russian aviation hit 59 Ukraine military infrastructure objects, including three command posts, two installations of multiple rocket launchers, two radar stations, two warehouses of missile and artillery weapons, as well as 51 places of accumulation of military equipment, he said.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) destroyed a radar of the S-300 air defense system north of Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, while air defense systems downed five Ukrainian UAVs, said Konashenkov.

Since the beginning of the special military operation, 196 Ukrainian UAVs, 1,438 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 145 multiple rocket launchers, 556 field artillery and mortars, as well as 1,237 units of special military vehicles have been destroyed, he said.


Russian Defense Ministry claims provocation with chemical substances prepared in Sumy

In a separate statement, the head of the Russian National Defense Management Center, Mikhail Mizintsev, said in the city of Sumy "nationalists mined storage facilities with ammonia and chlorine" in one of Ukraine's biggest chemical industry plants, SumyHimProm, with the goal "of mass poisoning of residents of the Sumy region," in case Russian armed forces entered the city.

And a village in the Kotlyarovo of Nikolayev region, containers with toxic chemicals were planted in a primary school building with intentions to blow it up on the approach of Russian troops, Mizintsev said.

"We warn the entire civilized world and international organizations in advance about the prepared cynical provocations of the Ukrainian authorities, in which, if they are implemented, Russian servicemen will be accused, as has happened many times before," he said.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial restrictions on Moscow and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.

At least 847 civilians have been killed and 1,399 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN, while noting conditions on the ground make it difficult to verify the true number.

More than 3.32 million people have also fled to neighboring countries, said the UN refugee agency.


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