According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, more than a dozen letters containing explosives or animal parts have been sent to Ukrainian diplomats around the world.
“This campaign is designed to instill fear,” Kuleba told CNN’s Matthew Chance in an exclusive interview in Kyiv on Friday.
There have been 17 cases of embassies receiving letter bombs, bogus letter bombs or letters containing animal parts, such as cow and pig eyes, he added.
CNN was shown an image of one of the letters with what officials say was a pig’s eyeball in a padded envelope.
“It started with an explosion at the Embassy of Ukraine in Spain,” Kuleba said. “But what followed this explosion was stranger, and I would even say sick.”
Kuleba was referring to an explosion that took place at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid on Wednesday, injuring a Ukrainian staff member who was handling a letter addressed to the country’s ambassador to Spain. Spanish officials said on Thursday that a letter bomb was also sent to the country’s prime minister and another to the US embassy last week.
Kyiv’s embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia, Italy, Austria and the consulates-general in Naples and Krakow have also received suspicious packages, Oleh Nikolenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, said on Facebook on Friday.
The packages were “soaked in a liquid of a characteristic color and had a corresponding odor,” he said. “We are investigating the meaning of this message.”
Ukraine has placed all its overseas diplomatic posts under heightened security following the flood of suspicious mail.
The Ukrainian consulate in Brno, a city in the southeastern Czech Republic, was briefly evacuated Friday after receiving a suspicious package containing animal tissue, Czech police added in a tweet on Friday.
When asked who he thought was behind the letters, Kuleba told CNN, “I feel tempted to mention Russia right away because first of all you have to answer the question: who benefits?”
“Perhaps this terror response is Russia’s response to the diplomatic horror we have created for Russia in the international arena, and this is how they try to fight back while losing the real diplomatic battles one by one.”
He said he thought Russia was either directly responsible or someone “sympathetic [with] the Russian cause and tries to instill fear.”
“The conclusion will be drawn by researchers, but I think these two versions make the most sense.”
CNN has contacted the Kremlin for comment on the letters.
Kuleba previously urged foreign governments to guarantee maximum protection of Ukrainian diplomatic institutions in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
In addition to the suspicious packages, Nikolenko said the entrance to the ambassador’s residence in the Vatican was vandalized and the Ukrainian embassy in Kazakhstan received a report of a bomb threat, which was later not confirmed.
Nikolenko also stated that the Ukrainian embassy in the United States received a letter containing a photocopy of an article critical of Ukraine. Most of the envelopes were shipped from Europe, he added.
Czech police tweeted that the consulate in Brno and its immediate surroundings, including a kindergarten, were evacuated on Friday. After examining the package, police said it contained no explosives, adding that they had no information indicating that people at the consulate or the surrounding area were in danger.
“The initial analysis suggests that the package contained animal tissue. A detailed analysis will now be carried out in laboratories,” the police tweeted.