More mercenaries connected to the Russian Wagner private military company arrived in Ukraine on Sunday with the objective of assassinating top Ukrainian military and political leadership, Ukraine's Intelligence Directorate claimed on Sunday.
The directorate asserted that the main targets of the mercenaries included Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Presidential Chief of Staff Andrii Yermak and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin "personally ordered another attack by one of his proxies," said the Directorate. "All previous attempts ended in the failure and elimination of terrorists.
Zelensky was allegedly nearly assassinated three times in the week of March 4, according to a report by The Times.
Ukrainian Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said on March 1 that one assassination attempt by Chechen special forces was foiled when the unit was "eliminated." The special unit belonged to the Kadyrovites, a Chechen paramilitary organization aiding Russian forces in their invasion of Ukraine.
The other team was from the Wagner mercenary group, which is linked to the Russian government.
The Times stated that both groups were foiled by "anti-war elements within Russia’s Federal Security Service,"
The Intelligence Directorate asserted that Russia was attempting to destabilize and demoralize Ukraine by conducting assassinations, among other measures.
Prior to the war, Foreign Policy magazine reported that US intelligence services had obtained information that there was a list of Ukrainian politicians, activists, and Russian and Belarusian dissidents that Russia would target if they invaded Ukraine.
The Kremlin denied US media reports that Russia has drawn up a list of Ukrainians to capture or kill in the event of an invasion, Reuters reported on February 21.
"Past Russian operations have included targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, detentions, and the use of torture, [and] would likely target those who oppose Russian actions,” an intelligence official reportedly told Foreign Policy.