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Ukraine says it foiled a Russian spy agency plot to assassinate President Zelenskiy

Kyiv’s state security service says that two colonels in the State Guard of Ukraine were detained on suspicion of enacting the plan drawn up by Russia’s Federal Security Service

Zelenski
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy holds a meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 3, 2024.PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE HANDO (EFE)

Ukrainian counterintelligence investigators have foiled a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other top military and political figures, Ukraine’s state security service said Tuesday.

Two colonels in the State Guard of Ukraine, which protects top officials, were detained on suspicion of enacting the plan drawn up by Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, a statement said. The colonels were recruited before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to the statement.

It quoted the head of the State Security Service, Vasyl Maliuk, as saying the plot foresaw an attack before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fifth term on Tuesday. Maliuk said that he personally oversaw the top-secret operation to track the plot.

Ukrainian claims of Russian efforts to kill Zelenskiy aren’t new. Zelensky said in 2022 there has been at least 10 attempts to assassinate him, and now the war with Russia has stretched into its third year.

Also, prosecutors in Poland said last month that a Polish man had been arrested on allegations of being ready to spy on behalf of Russia’s military intelligence in an alleged plot to assassinate Zelenskiy.

Zelenskiy’s movements are kept secret for security reasons, and his visits around the country are publicly announced only after he has left. News of events he holds in Kyiv is usually embargoed until they are over.

Zelenskiy has proved to be a valuable asset for his country as the war against Ukraine’s bigger neighbor grinds on, and as Kyiv’s depleted forces wait for more troops and weapons. He has urged his people to keep fighting and instilled a belief that Ukraine can prevail.

The Ukrainian statement said the Russian intelligence agents targeting Zelenskiy sought out members of the Ukrainian military close to the president’s security detail who could take the head of state hostage and later kill him. The operation was run from Moscow, it said, providing the names of three alleged Russian spies behind the conspiracy.

The broader plan was to identify the location of senior Ukrainian officials and target them with a rocket attack, followed by drones and missiles.

The two Ukrainian colonels were arrested on suspicion of treason, which carries a life sentence, the statement said.

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