Ukraine's prime minister on Thursday accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of building a terrorist network in Ukraine to destabilize the country and wreck its presidential election next month.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk launched the broadside after Putin accused the Kiev government in his annual televised call-in of dragging Ukraine into the "abyss." Putin also said that Moscow might not recognize next month's Ukrainian election.
"Russia is playing only one game: further aggravation, further provocation, because the task — that Putin today officially announced — is to wreck the presidential election on May 25," Yatseniuk told journalists in Kiev.
"There is only one person in the world who believes that there are no Russian troops in the east of Ukraine. His name is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin."
"He again recounted the fairy tale that these are not his agents who he has sent here and who have created a terrorist network in Ukraine. But we have irrefutable evidence," Yatseniuk said.
Earlier, Ukraine's state security service, the SBU, said it was holding in detention about 10 Russian citizens, all of whom have intelligence backgrounds. They were being questioned, said an SBU spokeswoman.
Putin on Thursday acknowledged that Moscow had responded to the overthrow of its ally, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, in February by sending Russian forces to help seize Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and annexing it shortly afterwards.
The Ukrainian government has also accused Moscow of being behind the take-over of public buildings in at least 10 eastern Ukrainian cities by pro-Russian separatists, a charge Putin again denied.
Ukrainian, Russian and Western diplomats were on Thursday in Geneva for talks to try to resolve the crisis. But Yatsenyuk said that the collapse of trust between Moscow and Kiev would make progress difficult.
"I don't have excessive expectations for the simple reason that I don't trust the Russian side," Yatsenyuk said."