MOSCOW — Russia said on Wednesday it had thwarted terror attacks in the hotly-disputed Crimean Peninsula that were devised by Ukrainian intelligence — charges Kiev vehemently denied.
The attacks were "targeting critical infrastructure points of the [Crimean] peninsula" ahead of Russian parliamentary and regional elections on September 18, according to a statement from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry strongly denied the accusations, saying in a statement that they were "an attempt to justify the relocation and aggressive actions of the Russian military units in the temporarily occupied peninsula."
"This way, the Russian security services are trying to distract the local population and the international community from the criminal act of transforming the peninsula into an isolated military base," according to a statement issued by Defense Ministry.
Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, which has a predominantly Russian-speaking population, was annexed by Russia after a military intervention in 2014. The annexation was not recognized by Ukraine or the West, including the United States.
Russia's FSB did not name the targets, but said the sabotage attacks were staged by the intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian army.
The FSB said one of its operatives was killed during the capture of the alleged attackers, who it said had already confessed.
The statement also said a Russian army soldier was killed during an alleged attempt by the Ukrainian army to send more saboteur groups into Crimea under the cover of military fire on Monday.
The FSB identified one of the captives as Yevgeny Panov, who it said served at the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Aside from the statement, Russian officials did not provide evidence for their claims.