Ukraine has unearthed a conspiracy for an attempted coup involving Russians, which was scheduled to take place next week, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated during a news conference on Friday.
Zelenskiy did not provide complete specifics of the coup attempt and did not accuse the Russian state of complicity, but he did speak at length during the news conference about a Russian military escalation threat and claimed Ukraine would be prepared for it.
The Kremlin quickly rejected any involvement in any coup attempt, stating that it had no plans to participate in such operations.
Russia has been building up forces near its border with Ukraine. Kyiv, the United States and NATO have voiced concerns in recent days about a possible Russian attack — a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as false and alarmist.
“We have challenges not only from the Russian Federation and possible escalation – we have big internal challenges. I received information that a coup d’etat will take place in our country on Dec. 1-2,” Zelenskiy said.
Ukraine had audio recordings as evidence of the coup plot, Zelenskiy added.
Moscow and Kyiv have traded blame for rising tensions in recent weeks, raising fears that a long-running conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists could erupt into renewed open warfare.
“We are in full control of our borders and are fully prepared for any escalation,” Zelenskiy said.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told the Military Times outlet last week that Russia had more than 92,000 troops massed around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February.
Ukraine, which wants to join the NATO military alliance, received a large consignment of U.S. ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, prompting criticism from Moscow.
Zelenskiy also said his chief of staff Andriy Yermak would soon be contacting representatives of Russia about the standoff between the two countries. Separately, Yermak said he would be contacting senior Kremlin official Dmitry Kozak.