Wagner mercenaries enter Ukraine to assassinate Zelensky after Putin 'personally ordered them to take him out
Russian Wagner group mercenaries have traveled to Ukraine on a mission to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, intelligence reports claim. Intelligence authorities attached to the Ministry of Defence said Russian President Vladimir Putin 'personally ordered another attack by one of his proxies', referring to the Wagner group.
'All previous attempts ended in the failure and elimination' of Wagner mercenaries at the hands of Ukrainian forces, the report added.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and the presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak were listed as among the other alleged assassination targets. Operatives were reportedly given a 24-person 'kill list' including Ukraine's prime minister, the entire cabinet, mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir - both boxing champions who have become iconic figures on the front lines of the capital (pictured together in Kyiv)
The Kremlin has long denied ties to the Wagner group, a 600-strong mercenary group deployed worldwide to carry out Moscow's dirty work. Reports have long claimed the force is Putin's personal assassination squad, but are far enough removed from the Kremlin to afford the Russian president plausible deniability.
It is the latest in more than a dozen attempts by both the Wagner group and Chechen special forces to kill the Ukrainian president since Russian troops launched a savage invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Reports later claimed that between 3,000 mercenaries had actually arrived in Ukraine in January, but with different missions. The group was said to be tracking Mr. Zelesnky and his colleagues via their mobile phones - claiming to know where they are at all times.
A Chechen hit squad also attempted to kill Mr. Zelensky on March 1 after the Secretary of National Security and Defense said they encounter two death squads. The FSS also reported their movement. The Chechens are a part of Russia's National Guard and are known for using brutal tactics.
Mercenaries of the Russian private contractor Wagner Group have been moved from Libya to Ukraine to fight alongside Russian forces, according to a Libyan security analyst.
“There were 2,200 Wagner militants in Libya. Russia has withdrawn 1,300 and left just 900 here,” Adel Abdel-Kafi, a military and security expert, told Anadolu Agency.
He said Wagner paramilitaries were removed from their posts along a highway linking the areas of Sirte and Jafra in central Libya. Abdel-Kafi said the Wagner Group is increasingly relying on fighters from African nations and continues to recruit people from Mali, Chad and Sudan.
The Wagner Group has been in Libya since October 2018 to support the forces of warlord Khalifa Haftar, who has been fighting Libya’s legitimate government for control of the North African country, according to the UN.
This is not the first claim about Wagner involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine, which started on Feb. 24 and has now entered its second month.
Just days after the war began, Ihor Ostash, Ukraine’s ambassador to Lebanon, accused Russia of sending 400 Wagner mercenaries to Kyiv to assassinate political leaders and other top officials. The group has also been targeted in the raft of sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries.
The latest sanctions unveiled by the UK on Thursday were against “those aiding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine including the Wagner Group, multiple defense companies, and Russian Railways,” according to a British government statement.