Ukraine claims it foiled Russian plot to assassinate President Zelenskyy

State security service says two colonels arrested after it thwarted alleged plan to kill Zelenskyy, other top officials.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy inspects the fortification lines in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 9, 2024 [Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

Ukrainian counterintelligence investigators claim to have foiled a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said.

On Tuesday, the SBU said in a statement it had exposed a network of agents run by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) whose aim was to assassinate Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian political and military officials.

Two colonels in the State Guard of Ukraine, which protects top officials, were arrested on suspicion of treason to enact the plan drawn up by Russia, the SBU said.

Russia had worked to identify individuals close to Zelenskyy’s security detail, the statement said, adding that the colonels were recruited before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The two were tasked with finding someone close to the presidential guard who would take Zelenskyy hostage and later kill him, the SBU statement said. It did not elaborate on when the alleged plot had been foiled.

The statement quoted SBU head Vasyl Maliuk as saying the plot foresaw an attack before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fifth term on Tuesday.

“The terrorist attack, which was supposed to be a gift to Putin for the inauguration, was indeed a failure of the Russian special services,” Maliuk said on the agency’s Telegram channel.

Maliuk said he personally oversaw the top-secret operation to track the plot.

There was no immediate comment from Russia.

There was also a plan to “eliminate” Maliuk and Kyrylo Budanov, the military intelligence agency’s head, the SBU said. Budanov’s assassination was supposed to take place before May 5, the Orthodox Easter Sunday, it added.

The men sought to inform the Russians of Budanov’s whereabouts so they could carry out missile and drone attacks at the location, it said. One of the arrested men was involved in transporting and storing drones and explosives for the operation, it alleged.

Polish and Ukrainian prosecutors announced last month that they had arrested a man suspected of aiding a Russian assassination plot on Zelenskyy.

In August, Ukrainian intelligence said a woman had been arrested over a plot to kill the Ukrainian leader by trying to uncover details of his movements outside the capital, Kyiv.

Zelenskyy said in 2022 there had been at least 10 attempts to assassinate him as the war with Russia stretches into a third year.

Source: News Agencies