Two arrested as Ukrainian authorities foil Russian plot to assassinate Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 06 March 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/IGOR TKACHENKO

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 06 March 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/IGOR TKACHENKO 

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has arrested two law enforcement officers it believes were plotting to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky, the SBU said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The SBU said it had exposed “an agent network” supervised by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) that was planning to assassinate Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials, among them SBU head Vasyl Maliuk and the head of Ukrainian military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov.

The alleged network included two unnamed colonels at the State Security Administration, a special-purpose Ukrainian law enforcement agency that provides security for state officials.

The FSB agent network’s task was to “find perpetrators close to [Zelensky’s] security detail” who could take Zelensky hostage and then kill him. Budanov was earmarked for assassination in a targeted missile strike “before Easter”.

“The attack, which was supposed to be a gift to Putin for his inauguration, instead represented the failure of Russia’s security services,” Malyuk said, adding that he had personally supervised the operation to expose the alleged FSB agents.

On 18 April the SBU reported the arrest of a Polish citizen who allegedly assisted Russian intelligence agencies planning an attempt on Zelensky’s life during a visit to Poland by passing on information about the security system used at the country’s Rzeszow airport.

On Saturday Russia added Zelensky to its wanted list, an online database of alleged criminals sought by authorities, alongside former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who ran against Zelensky in the 2019 presidential election.

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