Ranting Putin threatens Sunak and makes wild claim UK ‘backed nuclear plant raid’

Putin claims Ukrainian ‘saboteurs’ who allegedly attempted to damage power lines at the facility were trained under supervision of British secret services

Alex Ross
Tuesday 12 September 2023 22:04 BST
‘Desperate’ Putin attacked civilian cargo ship, Rishi Sunak reveals after G20 summit

Vladimir Putin has threatened Rishi Sunak as he accused the UK - without proof - of being behind a failed sabotage plot on a Russian atomic facility.

Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday, the Russian president said his country’s forces had apprehended Ukrainian ‘saboteurs’ planning to damage power lines at the facility - and in a wild claim he said they were instructed by British secret services.

“During interrogation, they [the ‘saboteurs’] admitted they were trained under supervision of British instructors,” he said in a long rant against Western help to Kyiv.

Vladimir Putin accused British elite forces of being behind a plot against a Russian atomic facility (Roscongress Foundation https://photo.roscongress.org)

“Do [the British] understand what they are playing with, or not? Are they provoking our response at Ukrainian nuclear sites, nuclear stations, or what? Does the British leadership, or the Prime Minister [of the United Kingdom. Rishi Sunak] know what their special services are engaged with in Ukraine?”

This is the first time details of the alleged attack have emerged, but no information was provided on where the facility was, the date of the failed plot or those who took part.

Mr Putin, speaking in the far eastern port city ahead of meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, also did not disclose which section of British special services he believed had trained the alleged Ukrainian sabotage team.

Despite providing no evidence for the claims, his comments, particularly those aimed at Mr Sunak, could signal an escalation in tensions between the Russia and UK. On Monday, the British Prime Minister had accused Russia of targeting a civilian cargo ship in the Black Sea.

“I assume it is possible British special services act on the orders of the Americans,” the Russian premier added. “Either way, we know the final beneficiary.

“But do they realise what they are playing with? I am afraid they simply underestimate…. I know there will be howling that starts after my words like ‘These are threats!’, ‘Nuclear blackmail!’, and so on.”

On Tuesday, Mr Sunak was on his way back to the UK after departing the G20 summit. The Independent has contacted the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a response to Mr Putin’s accusation.

Rishi Sunak made accusations against Russia at the G20 summit (PA Archive)

During Mr Putin’s speech, and perhaps in response to predicted scepticism from the West, he said: “I assure you this is the total pure truth. So these guys are telling this to us during interrogation.

“I know some can say, “They will say anything under a gun”. This is not true. And the leadership of the British special services knows I am telling the truth. But I am not sure the leadership of Great Britain understands what’s going on.

“These kinds of things are seriously concerning, because they [the UK] don’t feel the ground - which can lead to serious consequences.”

On Tuesday morning an armoured train carrying Kim Jong-un arrived in Russia for talks with Mr Putin.

It was thought the pair were to meet in Vladivostok, but the train was reportedly heading north, away from the city, with the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s far east near the border with China touted as the possible meeting place, according to the BBC.

It’s believed the pair are to meet to discuss an arms deal as Russia continues to face a strong Ukranian counteroffensive.

A government spokesperson said:“We’re not providing a running commentary on Russian allegations which only serve to distract from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

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