Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin Reuters

Britain on Saturday accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, saying Russian intelligence officers had been in contact with a number of former Ukrainian politicians as part of plans for an invasion, Reuters reported.

The British foreign ministry declined to provide evidence to back its accusations, but said it had information the Russian government was considering former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevhen Murayev as a potential candidate to head a pro-Russian leadership.

"The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking," British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

"Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy. As the UK and our partners have said repeatedly, any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with severe costs," she added.

There was no immediate response to the British claims from the Kremlin or from Murayev.

The British accusations came hours after it was reported that the US will begin evacuating families of those employed in the US Embassy in Ukraine, due to concerns of an upcoming Russian invasion.

According to Fox News, Russia has amassed a force of about 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, and the US is considering moving family members of Embassy employees back to the US, and allowing non-essential employees to leave voluntarily.

There are approximately 180 US citizens employed at the Kyiv Embassy, with a higher number of US citizens living nearby.

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