Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claims that his country has uncovered a plot for an alleged coup with the involvement of the Russian government to overthrow the lawfully elected government of Ukraine.
On Friday, Zelensky warned Moscow of a potential “escalation.”
Speaking at a conference that lasted for hours, Zelensky said Ukrainian intelligence obtained audio recordings of the plotters talking about involving business magnate Rinat Akhmetov into joining their coup.
“I received information that a coup d’etat will take place in our country on Dec. 1-2,” Zelensky said at a press conference, where he admitted that the country is facing internal dissent.
Akhmetov responded in a statement: "The information made public by Volodymyr Zelenskiy about attempts to draw me into some kind of coup is an absolute lie. I am outraged by the spread of this lie, no matter what the president's motives are."
"As a Ukrainian citizen, the country's biggest investor, taxpayer, and employer, I will continue to defend a free Ukraine, a free economy, democracy, and freedom of speech,” said the business magnate.
When asked to provide details about the alleged coup plot, and provide evidence that the Kremlin was involved, Zelensky replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t talk about it.”
Zelensky then pivoted to slamming Russia, accusing the Putin-led government of sending “very dangerous” signals. His warnings come amid alarm from the United States and European governments of the Russian troop buildup along the Ukrainian border, Reuters reported.
"We are in full control of our borders and are fully prepared for any escalation," Zelensky said.
“There is a threat today that there will be war tomorrow. We are entirely prepared for an escalation,” Zelensky said. “We need to depend on ourselves, on our army — it is powerful.”
Despite the saber-rattling, Zelensky said Ukraine had no plans to launch a military offensive against the rebels in Donbas.
“I think that those political forces that today say that we need to go to war — they do not seem to me to represent and do not think about anyone,” he said.
Ukraine, which intends to join the NATO military alliance, has blamed Moscow for its involvement in the Donbas conflict, which it is accused of supporting separatists since 2014.
Earlier this year, Ukraine received a massive consignment of U.S. ammunition and Javelin missiles, provoking criticism from Russia. U.S. officials were reportedly in contact with Ukraine to obtain more details about the alleged coup plot, Reuters reported.
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried told the newspaper that ministers from NATO member states, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will meet with Ukrainian officials at a summit in Latvia next week.