May 7, 2024 - World

Ukraine says it foiled Russian plot to assassinate President Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting in Kyiv in April 2024.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting in Kyiv in April 2024. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images

Ukraine's state security service said on Tuesday it thwarted another Russian plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, resulting in the arrests of two Ukrainian colonels.

Why it matters: Since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian officials have said there have been dozens of Russian-organized assassination attempts on Zelensky.

  • The Ukrainian claims could not be independently verified.

Catch up quickly: The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said Tuesday the plot involved networks of agents organized by Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor agency to the KGB.

  • It said the agents attempted to recruit members of Zelensky's security detail who would take the president hostage and later kill him.

Zoom in: The SBU claimed the plot was run from Moscow and released the names of three Russian spies allegedly behind the conspiracy.

  • At least two Ukrainian colonels with the State Protection Service, the main agency that provides security for Ukraine's president and other ministers and officials, were accused of participating in the plot against Zelensky and were arrested on suspicion of treason.
  • The SBU said one of the colonels brought drones, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-personnel mines to Kyiv and had spoken with FSB agents.

Zoom out: The head of the SBU Vasyl Malyuk, head of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov and other high-ranking officials were also potential targets, the SBU said.

  • It added that the group planned on killing Budanov, before Orthodox Easter on May 5 by pinpointing his location and attacking it with rockets, missiles and drones.

What they're saying: Malyuk, said in a statement the attack on Budanov was supposed to be a "gift" to Russian President Vladimir Putin before he was sworn in for a fifth term as president.

  • Malyuk said the plot instead turned into a failure for the FSB but warned that the Russian agency "could not be underestimated."

The big picture: Tuesday's announcement comes after Poland arrested a man last month who was allegedly spying for Russia's military intelligence as part of another plot to assassinate Zelensky, AP reports.

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