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Ukraine says Russia behind bomb hoaxes aimed at sowing ‘panic’

Moscow expels Estonian ambassador over 'total Russophobia': ministry
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Ukraine said Friday it had been subjected to an intense campaign of fake bomb threats targeting society in recent days, blaming Russia for the hoaxes that came as concern mounted of a possible Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s SBU security service said it had recorded more than 300 anonymous phone calls and internet messages since the beginning of the year.

By comparison, authorities recorded over 1,100 such messages in all of last year.

The SBU said the fake bomb threats targeted public facilities and “critical infrastructure” including schools, airports, and a building housing the presidential administration in the capital Kyiv.

The SBU accused Russia of being behind the hoaxes and called them “one of the elements of a hybrid war to increase pressure on Ukraine”.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border, fears are mounting that a major conflict could break out in Europe.

Moscow insists it has no plans to invade Ukraine but has at the same time laid down a series of security demands — including a ban on Ukraine joining NATO — in exchange for de-escalation.

“The goal of the security services of the aggressor country is obvious,” the Ukrainian security service said.

“It is to put additional pressure on Ukraine, to sow alarm and panic in society.”

The SBU said that most messages — all of which proved to be false — had been sent from “neighbouring post-Soviet countries” and eastern Ukrainian regions held by pro-Russian separatists.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday accused Russia of seeking to destabilise Ukraine from within.

“Russia is not only threatening us with its weapons but also increasing panic and trying to use it to undermine Ukrainian society and the economy,” Kuleba told reporters.

After a series of bomb threats this week local authorities in several cities ordered schools to switch to remote learning.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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