Moscow says Kiev is “completing preparations for monstrous provocations” against Orthodox churches to blame it on Russians, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vows to push back the offensive in the Donbas region.
According to a Facebook post by the Russian Embassy in Cyprus, Moscow believes Ukrainian forces with support from western countries are planning to attack churches during Orthodox Easter Vigil late on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.
The embassy called on the United Nations and other international organizations to pressure Kiev to back off the alleged plans, where “more than 70 mobile groups were formed from nationalist battalions on vans and cross-country vehicles equipped with mortars.”
'A large number of Western news agency journalists are to be involved in the filming of the alleged ‘Russian atrocities’ and the immediate spreading of the fakes by Kiev' the post claimed
Moscow claimed that journalists from Western news agencies were to be involved in the filming of the attacks, which were to be carried out by "traveling mortars" to shell churches across the regions of Zaporozhye, Nikolaev, Odessa, Sumy and Kharkov.
“A large number of Western news agency journalists are to be involved in the filming of the alleged ‘Russian atrocities’ and the immediate spreading of the fakes by Kiev,” the post said.
The post comes as Zelensky shifted focus on the Donbas region, vowing on Monday to oppose the Russian offensive and saying “we will fight, we will not give up anything Ukrainian."
"No matter how many soldiers are drawn there, we will defend ourselves," Zelensky said.
But Moscow claimed that “prepared provocations” by Ukrainian authorities demonstrate a “complete indifference to the fate of their own citizens.”
Over the weekend in Mariupol, a strategically crucial southeastern port city, the last Ukrainian resistance refused to surrender after a Russian ultimatum.
Mariupol’s defenders, said to be nationalist fighters embedded in the Ukrainian army, were holding out an iron and steel plant, but reports also suggested there were foreign mercenaries inside as well as possible unarmed civilians.