Russian President Vladimir Putin is accusing Ukraine of plotting terrorist attacks in the highly contested Crimean Peninsula. Putin claims that Ukrainian forces are attempting to incite a new conflict in the area and destabilize the annexed land mass.
The Russian security service FSB reportedly thrawted two armed attempts made by Ukrainians to cross into the peninsula, and two Russian intelligence officers were allegedly killed. According to Reuters, Kiev denies all of Putin's allegations, saying that Russia is purposefully trying to escalate tensions toward a full-blown war.
The FSB released a statement saying two officers were killed in a shootout with "a group of diversionaries," according to The Guardian. The alleged terrorist group reportedly had 20 homemade devices and around 40kg of explosive material.
Putin declared that Ukraine had "resorted to the practice of terror."
"We obviously will not let such things slide by," he added.
The Crimean Peninsula, which was once a semi-autonomous part of Ukraine, was invaded by Russian forces in early 2014 after a revolt deposed the pro-Russian government, according to CNN. Putin declared Crimea to be an annexation of Russia, saying that it was his responsibility to govern the area, given that Crimea has an ethnic Russian majority.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said at the time that the move was "a robbery on an international scale."
Ukraine's defense ministry claims that Putin's new allegations are only an excuse to substantiate Russian calls for increased military action, according to The Guardian.
"This kind of FSB statement is nothing more than an attempt to justify the relocation and aggressive actions of Russian military units on the temporarily occupied peninsula," read a statement, the Guardian reports. “Russian security services are trying to distract the population of Crimea and the international community from its criminal actions, turning the peninsula into an isolated military base.”
It is unclear if Putin will take military action; however, there has been an increased military presence in the peninsula and Putin's statements appear as if he is heading in that direction.
"This is a very dangerous game," said Putin, according to The Guardian. "We will of course do everything to assure the security of infrastructure, citizens and will take additional measures to provide security, including serious additional measures."