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Russia arrests Ukrainian agents accused of planning attacks in Crimea

Russia's Federal Security Service security service has arrested members of a Ukrainian military intelligence network that it claims was planning "a series of high-profile sabotage and terrorist acts" in Russian-annexed Crimea.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the FSB said the group had planned attacks against officials installed by Russia including local governor Sergei Aksyonov.

It said it had seized explosives identical to those used to attack railways in the peninsula in February.

In a statement, Mr Aksyonov said the same group was behind both alleged incidents.

He said, without providing evidence, that there was no doubt that the Ukrainian government was responsible.

"There is no doubt that the people who ordered these crimes are in Kyiv," Mr Aksyonov said on his Telegram channel.

The FSB said the same group had carried out a railway sabotage in February.

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and used it as one of the launchpads for its military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia launched a third round of night attacks on Kyiv in six days, authorities in the Ukrainian capital said on Wednesday, with a drone hitting a building in the Dnipropetrovsk region as Moscow steps up attacks on its neighbour.

Separately, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that proposed talks between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey on the Black Sea grain deal on May 5 have not yet been agreed.

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency quoted Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar as saying the grain deal would be discussed at a meeting in Istanbul.

But Russia's state-owned news agency RIA quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying of the proposed talks: "The question has not yet been agreed."

Russia has repeatedly cast doubt on the renewal of the Turkish-brokered grain deal, which was signed in July last year and regulates Russian and Ukrainian agricultural exports on the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, for a one-day Nordic summit on Wednesday.

Mr Zelenskyy is expected to meet with four Nordic prime ministers who are gathering at the residency of the Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Wednesday, when they will discuss their support to Ukraine.

The Nordic countries – Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland — have largely rallied around Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Those attending the meeting at the Finnish Presidential Palace in Helsinki are Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Norway’s Jonas Gahr Støre, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Iceland’s Katrín Jakobsdóttir and the Finnish President.

Mr Niinistö said the summit will discuss Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the Nordic countries’ continued support for Ukraine, developments in Ukraine’s relationship with the European Union and Nato, and Ukraine’s peace initiative.

“There is still an urgent need for military support to ensure that the Ukrainians stand as strong as possible in the fight against Russia,” Danish Prime Minister Ms Frederiksen said in a statement.

“We must help rebuild Ukraine and keep alive the hope for a normal everyday life and a just future on the other side of the war.”

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