Anti-war Russian FSB agents have helped thwart three assassination attempts against Zelensky, Ukraine claims

Kremlin-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces said to be behind planned attacks

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 04 March 2022 19:59
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Anti-war FSB agents have helped stop three assassination attempts on Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine has claimed.

The attempts on the life of the country’s president were thwarted when the disaffected Russian agents gave intelligence to Ukraine that two mercenary groups were planning the attacks, The Times reports.

The Kremlin-backed Wagner mercenary group and Chechen special forces were reportedly behind the failed attempts.

“I can say that we have received information from (Russia’s Federal Security Service), who do not want to take part in this bloody war,” Ukraine’s secretary of national security and defence told local TV stations, according to The Times.

The head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, is a close ally of Vladimir Putin, while the Wagner group is a private army owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, another Kremlin ally who was among a group of Russian figures close to the Russian president to face sanctions from the US this week.

There are reportedly more than 400 members of the Wagner group in Kyiv, with a “kill list” of 24 Ukrainian officials.

“They would be going in there with a very high-profile mission, something that the Russians would want to be deniable — a decapitation of a head of state is a huge mission,” a diplomatic source told the newspaper.

An apartment building damaged following a shelling on the town of Irpin, 26 kilometres west of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022

“In terms of the impact on Russian sovereign policy, this would be perhaps their biggest mission so far. It would have a major impact on the war.”

Mr Zelensky, 44, has previously warned of “enemy sabotage groups’ in his country’s capital and said that he was their “number one target” followed by his family.

A source close to the Wagner group told the newspaper that it was “eerie” how much Ukrainian security forces knew about their assassination attempt.

Mr Zelensky has refused to leave Kyiv as the Russian forces advance through his country, reportedly telling US officials “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, told Ukrainian media that Russian spies had tipped off the Kyiv government about the assassination plots.

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

The paper says some 400 members of the Wagner group – which has been active in countries including Syria, the Central African Republic and Mali – is under pressure from Moscow to assassinate 24 senior Ukrainian figures on a “kill list”.

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