Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has survived three assassination attempts since the Russian invasion began last week, reports have said. The plots were foiled after Ukrainian officials were alerted about them, according to The Times.
The reports said that two different assassination groups were sent to kill the Ukrainian President – the Wagner group and Chechen rebels.
According to The Washington Post, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) alerted the Ukrainians about a unit of Kadyrovites – elite Chechen special forces – sent to kill Zelensky. It quoted Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, as saying that these units were “destroyed”.
He added that the Chechen special forces were killed on Saturday on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. “And I can say that we have received information from the FSB, who today do not want to take part in this bloody war,” Danilov told The Post.
The Times reported that the intelligence inputs came from anti-war elements within the FSB.
Wagner mercenaries, meanwhile, were reportedly alarmed by how accurately the Ukrainians had anticipated their moves, the Times further reported.
It did not name the source of the information, but reported that the high ranking official said it was “eerie” how well briefed Zelensky’s security team appeared to be.
The US offered to evacuate Zelensky at the start of the war in Ukraine, but he declined. He instead chose to stay in Kyiv amid the Russian bombardment at intimate quarters with his protection squad and closest aides.
His decision has been praised by many countries, including France. President Emmanuel Macron, in his address to the nation, called Zelensky “the face of honour, freedom and courage”.
Zelensky has said he fears he is the number one target of the Russian invasion but on Thursday also called for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the only way to end the conflict.
“If anyone thinks… Ukraine will surrender he knows nothing about Ukraine and has nothing to do in Ukraine,” Zelensky said in his latest video address in an apparent message to Putin.