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Home New Release Ukraine’s Zelenskyy has survived multiple assassination attempts amid Russian war: reports

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy has survived multiple assassination attempts amid Russian war: reports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has survived at least one assassination attempt since Russia invaded his country over a week ago, according to official accounts, with media reports suggesting he may have dodged two more.

Ukrainian officials have confirmed one of the attempts, which they say was to be carried out by a unit of Kadyrovites, an elite special forces team based in Chechnya that serves the country’s president Ramzan Kadyrov.

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told a media briefing on Tuesday that the plot was foiled last weekend after anti-war agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) — the successor to the KGB — tipped the Ukrainians off.

“We are well aware of the special operation that was to take place directly by the Kadyrovites to eliminate our president,” Danilov said.

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“I can say that we have received information from the FSB, who today do not want to take part in this bloody war. And thanks to this, I can say that Kadyrov’s elite group was directly destroyed, which came here to eliminate our president.”

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The Times of London reported Thursday that two more attempts to kill Zelenskyy have been carried out in recent days by members of the Wagner Group, a private mercenary group whose leader is tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Those attempts were also stopped by Ukrainian forces protecting the president, the paper reported, with the mercenary groups suffering losses. A source close to the group told the Times it was “eerie” that Zelenskyy’s security team appeared to anticipate the operations.

Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security shared the article on its Telegram page, and officials have not disputed the report.

Global News has not verified the information on the Wagner Group’s reported assassination attempts, and has reached out to Ukrainian intelligence officials for comment.

Ukrainians resist as Russia hammers major cities

Ukrainians resist as Russia hammers major cities

Ukrainian and Western intelligence believes Putin aims to kill Zelenskyy and topple the democratic government, installing a new leadership that is more loyal to the Kremlin.

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Zelenskyy has said he has become Moscow’s “target number one,” and that his family is “target number two.”

“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying its head of state,” he said in a televised address to the nation last week.

According to Ukrainian intelligence officials quoted in the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, Putin ordered Kadyrov, a key ally, to carry out the assassination of Zelenskyy at a meeting on Feb. 3.

The newspaper’s account of the foiled operation matched the details given by Danilov at Tuesday’s briefing. It said FSB agents were tasked by Putin to monitor the Kadyrovites’ operation.

Kadyrov confirmed on Tuesday that two Chechen soldiers had been killed and six more wounded, but did not give further details. It was the first admission of casualties by Russia or its allies.

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The Russian Defence Ministry has since announced it has lost 498 troops since the invasion began, while Ukraine claims those losses are in the thousands. None of the claims have been independently verified.

The involvement of the Wagner Group in the Ukraine war was first reported by the Times last week, saying at least 400 mercenaries are operating in the country with orders to execute those on a 24-name “kill list,” which includes Zelenskyy.

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Early into the invasion, the capital of Kyiv was placed under a 36-hour “hard curfew” after officials, including Zelenskyy, said Russian-backed “sabotage groups” had entered the city. Residents were told to stay in their homes or risk being mistaken for enemy agents and “liquidated.”

The Times said the curfew was ordered after the Ukrainian government got word of the mercenary plot, identifying the “sabotage groups” as Wagner members.

Click to play video: 'Russia-Ukraine conflict: Zelenskyy talks wartime regime, says no time to see family'

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Zelenskyy talks wartime regime, says no time to see family

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Zelenskyy talks wartime regime, says no time to see family

Zelenskyy has remained in Kyiv, hiding in deep underground bunkers with advisors and security staff while telling the Ukrainian people he will not leave the capital.

U.S. government sources told the Associated Press that when the United States offered to evacuate the Ukrainian leader a day into the invasion, Zelenskyy responded, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Moving Zelenskyy out of the country — even to a nearby, safer city like Lviv in the west — could provide an opening for Putin’s forces to try and install a replacement.

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The Times, citing sources close to the Wagner Group, said on Thursday the mercenaries have been told to await the arrival of Russian special forces to provide a secure exit corridor out of Kyiv after they have completed the assassinations, with the storming of the capital serving as a distraction.

Yet the special forces’ arrival appears to have stalled. A military convoy stretching over 60 kilometres is currently stuck outside the city due to reported food and fuel shortages, delaying the planned siege.

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Zelenskyy has posted numerous videos of himself in addition to his daily briefings to prove he is still in Kyiv and alive, an effort to counter Russian propaganda and misinformation.

Yet he is no longer filming himself outside government buildings or in the streets, opting instead for nondescript backdrops in order to keep his exact location a secret.

In an interview with CNN and Reuters in one of his bunkers, he said he has not seen his family in days, but vowed to keep fighting.

“We do not hold out, we fight, and our nation will fight to the end,” he said. “This is our home, we are protecting our land, our homes, for the sake of our children’s future.”


© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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