Russia’s security services have foiled a plot to kill a “famous” TV journalist, according to Vladimir Putin.
The Russian president said the plot was foiled by Russia’s main spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB). He offered no evidence to back up his claim.
“This morning, the Federal Security Service stopped the activities of a terrorist group that planned to attack and kill one famous Russian TV journalist,” he said.
“They have moved to terror – to preparing the murder of our journalists.”
Interfax News Agency said members of a nationalist group, who were allegedly acting on orders of Ukrainian spies, have been detained by authorities in Russia.
FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said six neo-nationalist Russian citizens plotted to kill Russian journalist Vladimir Solovyev, a vocal supporter of Mr Putin and the war in Ukraine, at the behest of Ukraine’s state security service (SBU).
The SBU has denied the allegations, which it said were fantasies made up by Moscow.
“The SBU has no plans to assassinate V Solovyev,” it said in a statement.
Mr Putin claimed the West is trying to destroy Russia from the inside, adding that the CIA was directing attempts to undermine the country and is advising the Ukrainian government.
Russia’s president also said foreign media organisations and social media had been used by the West to fabricate provocations against Russia’s armed forces. Such actions, he said, should be stopped.
In other key developments:
- Eight people were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk region
- Russia claims it has destroyed oil refinery and fuel depots in Dnipro
- Ukraine says no evacuation route has been agreed for Mariupol
- Putin congratulated Emmanuel Macron for his re-election
- A total of 21,900 Russian troops have been killed in the conflict so far, according to Ukraine’s armed forces
Russia ‘failing’ its war aims
Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke after a visit to Kyiv, where he met Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Mr Blinken said the US had approved a $165m (£130m) sale of ammunition to Ukraine, along with $322m (£251m) in foreign military financing.
“The strategy that we’ve put in place – massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts – is having real results,” he said.
“When it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding.
“Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate Ukraine, to take away its sovereignty, to take away its independence. That has failed.”
He said Russia “sought to assert the power of its military and its economy” but “we, of course, are seeing just the opposite: a military that is dramatically underperforming, an economy – as a result of sanctions, as a result of a mass exodus from Russia – that is in shambles”.
Russia’s attempt to “divide the West and NATO” has also failed, he said.
Mr Blinken confirmed that US diplomats will start returning to Ukraine next week.
Russia warns West against sending more weapons to Ukraine
Russia earlier warned the US against sending more arms to Ukraine, saying it would only increase the bloodshed.
“What the Americans are doing is pouring oil on the flames,” Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
“I see only an attempt to raise the stakes, to aggravate the situation, to see more losses.”
He said an official diplomatic note had been sent to Washington stressing the “unacceptability of this situation” and demanding an end to the practice.