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Ukraine says it caught agents for Russia plotting Zelenskiy’s murder

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Kyiv

(Reuters) – Ukraine’s state security service said it caught two agents for Russia plotting the assassination of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other top officials as “a gift” for Vladimir Putin as he was sworn in for a new term in the Kremlin on Tuesday.

The two men were colonels in Ukraine’s state guard service recruited by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) who leaked classified information to Moscow, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said on the Telegram app.

They were tasked with finding someone close to the presidential guard who would take Zelenskiy hostage and later kill him, the SBU statement said, without making clear at what point the alleged plot had been foiled.

“The terrorist attack, which was supposed to be a gift to Putin for the inauguration, was indeed a failure of the Russian special services,” SBU chief Vasyl Maliuk was quoted as saying by his agency on Telegram.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

The Kremlin declined to comment last month when asked about the arrest in Poland of a man accused of working with Russian intelligence to prepare a possible attempt to assassinate Zelenskiy.

The Ukrainian leader, who has led his country’s effort to fend off Russia’s more than two-year-old invasion, said last autumn that his security services had foiled at least five Russian plots to assassinate him.

The spy group also planned to “eliminate” Maliuk and Kyrylo Budanov, the military intelligence agency’s head, the SBU said.

Budanov’s assassination was supposed to happen before Orthodox Easter Sunday on May 5, it added.

The agents sought to inform the Russian side of the whereabouts of Budanov so they could carry out missile and drone attacks at the location, it said. One of the arrested men was involved in transporting and storing drones and explosives for the operation, it added.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; Editing by Tom Balmforth)


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