Vladimir Putin has strong backing in Ukraine President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov has claimed that a group of Russians and Ukrainians has been plotting to overthrow him. He says they are being funded by an “anti-Russian opposition” in the US, including billionaire George Soros. The Kremlin has denounced the claims as “complete nonsense”. Nato says it can not confirm any such incident but notes allegations are “complicated”. Nato leaders are meeting in Brussels this week. American, French and British leaders have said the Crimea crisis and events in Ukraine have not changed their resolve to counter any Russian aggression. Crimea has been annexed by Russia In a speech delivered on Saturday, President Turchynov said the group of Ukrainians and Russians – some of whom were planning to fly to Kiev from Moscow on Thursday – was not just about Ukraine. He said it was part of a broad plot to overthrow him and install a pro-Russian regime “sponsored by Washington and London”. Moscow has flatly denied any involvement. A number of similar allegations have been made before, but Mr Turchynov’s claim of a wide-ranging Russian plot is the most concrete. He said his country’s armed forces were capable of stopping the rebels on the ground but that they were unprepared for “a plan that threatens the whole of Ukraine”. He appealed to NATO and the US to keep to the terms of a security agreement that Mr Obama signed in March last year that stipulates that Ukraine is not a member of Nato. Mr Turchynov also said he would sign the treaty to grant Ukraine its own army on 1 May and asked that Russian forces out of the country’s Crimea region leave Ukraine “immediately”. One of the leaders of the group of Russians, Col-Gen Vyacheslav Ponomaryov – an ex-military officer in the Ukrainian army – denied any involvement in a campaign against Ukraine’s government, arguing that he is an “independent political figure”. ‘Not true’ The Russian Foreign Ministry repeated Russia’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and warned against any attempts to harm its “territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence”. It also accused Kiev’s authorities of attempting to hide the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine, which Nato has accused of occupying the Crimea region following the annexation of the territory last month. The pro-Moscow separatists who control the Black Sea peninsula have supported a UN-backed talks process involving the Ukrainian government and other groups in the country. The US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia to take part in the talks, saying that its leaders would be held responsible if the talks yielded no results. Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We are faced with a destabilising situation in Ukraine. Russia must halt all actions to destabilise Ukraine.” Moscow says it will respect Ukraine’s choices following the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych last year. Separatist rebels have seized large swathes of the eastern region, leading to international calls for peace talks. The United States and the European Union have imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Russian officials in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s support for the eastern separatists. Ukraine is at odds with the EU over a controversial trade deal it signed with the EU in November 2013. The two sides are currently negotiating a new deal which the EU says is essential for Ukraine’s economic future, but Kiev’s leaders say it does not adequately address their needs.
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