Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has survived three assassination attempts and counting in roughly the past week, according to a Thursday report from the U.K. publication called The Times. These attempts have unfolded amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Russian military personnel continuously targeting the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv — although a large Russian military convoy approaching the city has been essentially stalled out, for now at least. Still, devastation is continuing elsewhere — thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been killed amid Russian attacks that have affected civilian areas around the country, and amid the destruction, well over 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine, spotlighting the staggering scope of the crisis.
Accounts of battlefield bravery have long inspired us. But the bravery of leaders of nations is often only witnessed in history or cinema—until now. I watch daily in awe at the monumental courage and leadership of @ZelenskyyUa. God bless him and instill within us such character.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) March 4, 2022
According to The Times, the recent assassination attempts that Zelenskyy has overcome have been the work of mercenaries associated with the Russian government-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces. In the description of the publication, “Wagner mercenaries in Kyiv have sustained losses during their attempts and are said to have been alarmed by how accurately the Ukrainians had anticipated their moves.” Casualties have also been inflicted by Ukrainian defenders on the Chechen personnel who have targeted the president; last weekend, Chechen fighters were “eliminated” before being able to access Zelenskyy, according to Ukrainian officials. Oleksiy Danilov, who heads Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, stated that Ukrainian officials “have received information from [agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service], who do not want to take part in this bloody war… And thanks to this, the Kadyrov elite group was destroyed, which came here to eliminate our president.” Ramzan Kadyrov is the Chechen leader.
I welcome the establishment by the #UN Human Rights Council of the International Commission of Inquiry to investigate facts of Russian war crimes against Ukraine. Evidence will be documented and used in international courts. Russian war criminals will be held accountable.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 4, 2022
Wagner personnel ‘have come under fierce pressure from Moscow to bring forward their operations to secure a visible victory and they are said to intend to carry out the 24 assassinations on their “kill list” in a matter of days,’ according to Thursday’s report from The Times. In 2018, The New York Times characterized the Wagner Group as “a private military force founded by a former Russian intelligence officer and linked to an associate of President Vladimir V. Putin,” adding that it’s “unclear whether the Wagner Group… is really a private company or, as some experts believe, just a vehicle used by military intelligence for operations that the Russian state wants to keep at arm’s length but which offer moneymaking opportunities for insiders connected to the state.” Individuals involved in the organization were in Ukraine as early as 2014, in connection to early tensions in the Donbas region — which is where two independent countries on Ukrainian territory were recognized by Russian leaders shortly before the full-fledged invasion that Putin launched.
The Times: Volodymyr Zelensky survives 3 assassination attempts in days.
Two different groups have been sent to kill him, yet both have been thwarted by anti-war elements within Russia’s Federal Security Service, according to the Times' sources.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 4, 2022
The Times notes that Zelenskyy has shifted from filming himself in recognizable locations — now, the Ukrainian leader is using less recognizable spots for messages that he’s sending out. Meanwhile, Ukraine has claimed to have killed thousands and thousands of Russian troops — a claim that’s been tentatively supported by officials in the West, but Putin is publicly standing by his insistence that the war is going according to plan for Russia. Read more here.
Day 9 of this hell. Putin thought this would be over in ≈ 72 hours, but Ukraine is still standing strong.
— Anastasiia Lapatina (@lapatina_) March 4, 2022