Russian Wagner group mercenaries have travelled to Ukraine on a mission to assassinate Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky, intelligence reports claim.
Intelligence authorities attached to the Ministry of Defence said Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘personally ordered another attack by one of his proxies’, referring to the Wagner group.
All previous attempts ended in the failure and elimination’ of Wagner mercenaries at the hands of Ukrainian forces, the report added.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and the presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak were listed as among the other alleged assassination targets.
The Kremlin has long denied ties to the Wagner group, a 600-strong mercenary group deployed worldwide to carry out Moscow’s dirty work.
Reports have long claimed the force is Putin’s personal assassination squad, but are far enough removed from the Kremlin to afford the Russian president plausible deniability.
It is the latest in more than a dozen attempts by both the Wagner group and Chechen special forces to kill the Ukrainian president since Russian troops launched a savage invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Zelensky, by early March, had survived three attempts on his life by mercenaries from the Kremlin-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces.
The assassins were foiled by subversive anti-war members within Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) – Russia’s successor to the KGB – who alerted Ukraine officials.
Ukraine Secretary of National Security and Defense confirmed the three assassination attempts and told local press that he had received information from the double agents ‘who do not want to take part in this bloody war.’
Intelligence reports have claimed groups of the highly-trained Wagner fighters were waiting in the wings for the greenlight from the Kremlin to enter Ukraine.
Operatives were reportedly given a 24-person ‘kill list’ including Ukraine’s prime minister, the entire cabinet, mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir – both boxing champions who have become iconic figures on the front lines of the capital.
The attack was sabotaged after the plans reached the upper echelons of the Ukrainian government on March 5, prompting Kyiv to declare a 36-hour ‘hard’ curfew, ordering everyone indoors so that soldiers could sweep the streets for Russian saboteurs.
Reports later claimed that between 2,000 and 4,000 mercenaries had actually arrived in Ukraine in January, but with different missions.
The group were said to be tracking Mr Zelesnky and his colleagues via their mobile phones – claiming to know where they are at all times.
A Chechen hit squad also attempted to kill Mr Zelensky on March 1 after the Secretary of National Security and Defense said they encounter two death squads. The FSS also reported their movement.
The Chechen are a part of Russia’s National Guard and are known for using brutal tactics.
Russia kept up its bombardment of other Ukrainian cities on Monday, hitting a shopping mall and several apartments in the capital Kyiv in the early hours – reducing the former to rubble.
Bombings in the surrounded city of Sumy also hit an ammonia plant, sparking an evacuation, as Ukrainians in Mariupol refused Russia’s offer to lay down their arms in exchange for an amnesty.
At least 902 civilians have been killed and 1,459 wounded in Ukraine as of midnight on March 19, the UN human rights office said.
— Daily Mail