Assassination attempts on Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December 2023. Zelenskyy has been subjected to a number of assassination attempts during the course of the invasion. Vladimir Zelenskii (31-12-2023).jpg
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December 2023. Zelenskyy has been subjected to a number of assassination attempts during the course of the invasion.

According to Ukrainian government officials and news sources, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has survived a number of assassination and kidnapping attempts by Russian or pro-Russian agents during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. [1] [2]

Contents

Background

In order to achieve a quick victory during the invasion of Ukraine, Russia planned to have groups enter the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and destroy Ukraine's leadership. [3] Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak stated that "Russia's key intention [was] to remove the country's top leadership, create maximum panic, and try to establish its own puppet government". [4]

Attempts

According to the Ukrainian government, in early February 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin instructed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to eliminate Ukrainian leaders. [5] In early March, Ukraine intelligence said that Chechen commandos sent to assassinate Zelenskyy had been "eliminated", with help from FSB agents sympathetic to Ukraine. [6]

In February 2022, Redut PMC was ordered on a covert mission in the Kyiv region to infiltrate and eliminate the political leadership and the Ukrainian Secret Service, by storming those institutions. [7] More than one thousand fighters entered the Kyiv region for this purpose, [8] yet the mission failed due to Ukraine and the West knowing of much of these plans, resulting in Redut losing up to 90% of their fighting force. [9]

More than 400 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group were reported to have been in Kyiv by late February 2022, with orders to assassinate Zelenskyy and destabilise the government enough for Russia to take control. [10]

In August 2023, it was reported that another alleged assassination attempt had been stopped after Ukraine's security service arrested a woman who was suspected of gathering information on Zelenskyy's trip to the Mykolaiv region. [11]

In April 2024, a man was arrested in Poland and was allegedly tasked with collecting information about Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, which is used by Zelenskyy, alongside possible aid towards Russian intelligence services on an assassination of him. [12]

Number of attempts

During the conflict there were conflicting accounts of the number of assassination attempts made against Zelenskyy. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak referenced the issue while speaking to the Ukrainian Pravda news outlet, saying, "Our foreign partners are talking about two or three attempts. I believe that there were more than a dozen attempts". [13]

In addition, on Saturday, 26 February 2022, an assassination attempt by a group of Chechen mercenaries was prevented on the outskirts of Kyiv with the would be assassins killed. [5]

In early March 2022, the head of Ukraine's National Security Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said that Zelenskyy had survived three assassination attempts in one week. Danilov credited the aid of anti-war intelligence officers within Russia's FSB who shared information with Ukrainian forces about the planned attacks by two groups of assassins from Chechnya. [14]

Response

During an interview with CBS News on 6 March 2022, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken said that the Ukrainian government had prepared for the potential death of Zelenskyy in the invasion, but would not disclose additional details. [15]

See also

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References

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  2. Wagner group contractors were involved in Zelensky assassination plot, top Ukrainian official says Archived 27 March 2022 at the Wayback Machine , by CNN, David McKenzie and Ghazi Balkiz
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  4. "Подоляк: Одна з цілей Росії – прибрати вище керівництво" [Podolyak: One of the goals of Russia is to remove the top leadership]. Слово і Діло (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 9 March 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
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