Ukrainian consul in St Petersburg arrested by Federal Security Services amid Kiev-Moscow tensions

Russia has taken a Ukrainian diplomat into custody for allegedly receiving classified information from the country”s security agencies.

The Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main security agency, said on Saturday that Alexander Sosonyuk, Ukraine’s consul in St. Petersburg, had been arrested on Friday during a meeting with a Russian in which he received “information of a classified nature contained in the databases of law enforcement agencies and the FSB.”

“This activity is incompatible with the status of a diplomatic worker and is clearly hostile towards the Russian Federation,” the FSB statement added.

Kiev has yet to formally respond to the diplomat’s arrest. Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Yenin said on Saturday: “In accordance with the existing practice and pursuant to the reciprocity principle, the Ukrainian side is preparing a response towards Russian diplomats.”

The arrest has come amid escalating tensions between the two countries over Russia’s military buildup along the border with eastern Ukraine.

On Thursday, Russian also announced the closure from next week to October 2021 of part of the Black Sea in the direction of the Kerch Strait, for the purposes of “military exercises”.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called the move “a gross violation of the right to freedom of navigation guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea… The behavior of the Russian side indicates the absence of any intention on its part to refuse to continue the aggression against Ukraine using military and hybrid methods.”

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