Russia has detained a Ukrainian diplomat in St Petersburg for purportedly obtaining classified information from the main security agency, as tensions between the two countries develop.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) said Oleksandr Sosonyuk, Ukraine’s consul, was taken into custody during a meeting with a Russian in which he obtained information of a classified nature contained in the databases of law enforcement agencies and the FSB.
The claims come amid raised tensions between the two ex-Soviet nations with concerns the situation could worsen into conflict.
The security service said Oleksandr Sosonyuk was caught red-handed and added his activities were incompatible with his standing as a diplomat.
The FSB said in a statement that the foreign diplomat will be handled following the criteria of international law and that he has a clear antagonistic nature with Russia.
Oleksandr Sosonyuk headed the Ukrainian consulate in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city.
It comes as Russia has massed around 100,000 troops on its borders with Ukraine in recent days, which springs fears of a full-scale invasion, but Moscow denies inflaming the tense stalemate on the frontier.
Ukraine has demanded NATO membership as a protection against its neighbour, threatening to return to building a nuclear arsenal if it’s refused.
Earlier this week the head of US forces in Europe, General Tod Wolters, said there’s a low to medium chance of a Russian attack on Ukraine in the next few weeks.
He was giving evidence to the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington when he was asked about the risk of invasion in that timeframe.
The general insisted the odds were low to medium, adding that it would depend on many factors, but based on the prevailing trajectory and disposition of Russian forces, that possibility would start to fade.
Kiev earlier blamed Moscow for openly intimidating Ukraine with destruction by placing 80,000 men along its eastern border, with thousands more arriving by the day, as it called on western allies to intervene.
Dmytro Kuleba, the country’s foreign minister, warned of extremely unpleasant consequences if Vladimir Putin attacks. And he said that words were not enough and allies would need to give practical support.
He spoke following a meeting with the foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, NATO allies in the region, saying that the four of them condemn the exacerbation of the situation by Russia.