Zelensky says Putin has tried to assassinate him ‘five or six times’
In an interview with the Sun, the Ukrainian president said there have been ‘five or six’ assassination plots foiled by his intelligence agents since the start of the Russian invasion last year. He described the first one as ‘very interesting’, but says over time they have become a matter of routine, ‘like Covid’.
‘The first one is very interesting, when it is the first time, and after that it is just like Covid,’ , he told the publication.
‘First of all, people don’t know what to do with it and it’s looking very scary.
‘And then after that, it is just intelligence sharing with you – detail that one more group came to Ukraine to (attempt) this.’
The initial attempt happened on the first day of Russia’s invasion on February 24 last year, when Russian special forces parachuted into Kyiv in an attempted decapitation strike on the Ukrainian capital.
But Zelensky says his bodyguards thwarted the plot by sealing off his office with makeshift barricades and issuing his aides with body armour and rifles.
British and US officials offered the president a way out of the capital shortly afterwards, fearing the regime would fall in a matter of hours.
However, Zelensky responded by telling them ‘I need ammo, not a ride’ and posted a defiant selfie in the streets of Kyiv, signalling an intention to stay and fight.
Almost two years later, the Ukrainian president says Putin still ‘wants very much’ to topple him from power and replace him with a pro-Russian puppet leader.
He says the operation is codenamed ‘Maidan 3’ – a reference to the Euromaidan revolution of 2014 which sparked the Russian annexation of Crimea and led to the outbreak of war.
‘[The operation] is meant to change the president. It’s bye bye,’ Zelensky said.