Diplomat Andrei Kelin alleges he has evidence of UK special forces’ participation in a Ukrainian drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which he claims to have passed on to his UK counterpart.
Speaking to Sky News‘ Mark Austin, Mr Kelin said: ‘We perfectly know about the participation of British specialists in [the] training, preparation and execution of violence against the Russian infrastructure and the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. We know that it has been done.’
Mr Kelin told media that the evidence will be made public ‘pretty soon’.
He said: ‘It is dangerous because it escalates the situation. It can bring us up to the line of I would say no return, return is always possible. But anyway, we should avoid escalation.
‘And this is a warning actually that Britain is too deep in this conflict. It means the situation is becoming more and more dangerous.’
The ambassador also declared that President Putin wants a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine. He said: ‘We need a certain outcome, a negotiated outcome and we are not hiding away from the negotiations.’
A photo released by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday shows a Russian warship launching a cruise missile at a target in Ukraine
Diplomat Andrei Kelin alleges he has evidence of UK special forces’ participation in a Ukrainian drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which he claims to have passed on to his UK counterpart
Smoke rises on the outskirts of Kyiv during a Russian missile attack, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues
Members of the public fill containers with water from public water pumps in Kyiv
However Mr Kelin suggested that any settlement may require some Russian troops to remain in Ukraine to protect the Russian population – something the government in Kyiv has rejected.
‘If we will need to protect the Russian population which is populating all this area right now, of course we will need Russian troops to stay over there,’ he said.
Mr Kelin insisted that Russia had no intention of using nuclear weapons in the conflict.
‘Nuclear war cannot be won and it should never be fought. We stick strongly to this statement. We will not use a nuclear weapon because it is designed for different purposes,’ he stated.
Russia has previously warned of ‘dangerous consequences’ after summoning the UK’s ambassador to show her ‘evidence’ that Britain helped plan attacks on the Nord Stream pipes and its Black Sea Fleet.
Deborah Bronnert was hauled into the foreign ministry in Moscow this morning and forced to run a gauntlet of stage-managed protesters holding placards that said ‘Britain is a terrorist state’ and ‘Britain will answer for the Nord Stream’.
Moscow said it had delivered a ‘strong protest’ to Bronnert, adding that ‘such confrontational actions of the English carry a threat of escalation and could lead to unpredictable and dangerous consequences.’
The UK has not given its own run-down of the meeting, but denies carrying out any direct attacks on Russia or its assets. Britain has been upfront about providing aid to Ukraine’s war effort, which Moscow was warned about before Putin invaded.
Deborah Bronnert, the British ambassador to Russia, was summoned to the foreign ministry this morning to see ‘evidence’ the UK helped attack the Nord Stream pipes and Black Sea Fleet
Protesters – who appeared to be stage-managed – carried banners reading ‘Britain is a terrorist state’ and ‘Britain will answer for the Nord Stream’
Bronnert arrived at Moscow’s towering Soviet-era foreign ministry building, with a line of people chanting ‘Britain is a terrorist state’, state media showed.
The foreign ministry said it had handed ‘concrete facts’ of London’s ‘hostile provocations’ to her.
‘A demand was put forward to stop them immediately,’ it said.
Moscow claimed UK military specialists were training Ukrainian special forces in the southern city of Ochakiv, ‘including training for underwater saboteurs for operations in the waters of the Black and Azov seas’.
Russia last week also accused the UK of being implicated in explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines in September.
The UK says these are ‘false claims on an epic scale.’
Western officials said on Wednesday that Russia’s increasingly wild allegations about nuclear weapons and sabotage attacks are a way to distract from its failing war.
The protests follow a frenzy of anti-British claims, while demands to retaliate against the UK have come from Russian officials and state TV.
The UK is being spuriously blamed for explosions in the Nord Stream gas pipelines and a drone attack on the naval port Sevastopol in annexed Crimea.
‘The UK ambassador will be summoned and will be given the appropriate materials,’ said foreign ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova a day ahead of the meeting.
The official alleged ‘the participation of British specialists in the preparation of Kyiv’s attacks’.
Russia has ramped up the rhetoric against the UK as its invasion in Ukraine has faltered, with Western officials saying the wild claims are a distraction tactic
Demonstrations in central Moscow are rare and usually quickly crushed by police – suggesting Thursday’s action was carried out with tacit support from authorities
Britain is likely being targeted because it is leading support for Ukraine – having given more than any other country bar the US
If anti-Putin protesters want to organise a demonstration in Moscow, it is almost impossible to get permission.
Close Putin crony Nikolai Patrushev – secretary of the Russian security council – repeated the allegations against Britain in a Moscow speech today.
‘According to the Russian defence ministry, representatives of the British naval forces took part in [the] planning and implementation [of attacks],’ he said.
‘It is impossible not to pay attention to the SMS message, which at that time British Prime Minister Liz Truss immediately reports to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken after the gas pipelines were blown up that ‘everything is done’.’
He claimed: ‘Literally from the first minutes after the reports of explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, an active campaign was launched to accuse Russia.
‘However, it is obvious that the main beneficiary of these terrorist attacks is the United States.’
Ms Zakharova had accused Bronnert of ‘criminal hypocrisy’ in laying flowers at the Solovetsky Stone on the eve of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression while Britain was supposedly involved in the drone attacks on the weekend.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was targeted by drone boats over the weekend in an operation that Moscow said was orchestrated by British special forces
Smoke rises over Sevastopol – Russia’s main naval base in Crimea – after it was attacked by drones over the weekend
Earlier today, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Ukrainian forces can retake the strategic southern city of Kherson from Putin’s troops, in what would be a major defeat for Russia in its invasion of its neighbor.
Austin’s remarks coincided with a Russian-installed official in Kherson region saying Moscow was likely to pull its troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River, signaling a significant treat, if confirmed.
Ukraine said it was still fighting in the area and was wary of the occupying Russian forces setting a trap.
Austin did not answer a question about whether Russian forces were preparing to leave. But, in perhaps his most optimistic comments yet on the Ukrainian counter-offensive, expressed confidence in their ability to beat back Russian forces.
‘On the issue of whether the Ukrainians can take the remaining territory on the west side of the Dnipro river and in Kherson, I certainly believe that they have the capability to do that,’ Austin told a news conference at the Pentagon.
‘Most importantly, the Ukrainians believe they have the capability to do that. We have seen them engage in a very methodical but effective effort to take back their sovereign territory.’
The region’s capital and river port Kherson is the only big city Russia has captured intact since its invasion began on February 24.