2 Ukrainians detained for allegedly plotting Zelenskyy assassination with Russia, Ukraine says

Two colonels from Ukraine's SBU were recruited by Russia, Ukraine said.

May 7, 2024, 3:19 PM

LONDON and KYIV -- Two colonels in Ukraine's State Protection Service were identified as part of a group planning to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian officials said Tuesday.

The colonels, who have been detained but not yet been publicly identified, were recruited by the Russian Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, Ukraine said.

"Their mission involved identifying military personnel within Zelenskyy's security detail capable of abducting and assassinating him," Ukraine's State Protection Service, or SBU, said.

Other high-ranking officials were also allegedly targeted by the group, which SBU officials described as a "network of agents." SBU head Vasyl Malyuk and the head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, were among those who had been targeted, officials said.

"One of the agents was tasked with surveilling the president's movements and relaying this information," the SBU said in a statement posted to Telegram. "A plan was devised to target a location where the president would be present with a missile and drone strike."

The colonels had allegedly obtained the drones they planned to use for the operation against Zelenskyy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Secretary General of NATO (not pictured) attend a joint press conference in Kyiv, on April 29, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg (L) speaks as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky listens on during a joint press conference in Kyiv, on April 29, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Roman PILIPEY / AFP) (Photo by ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP via Getty Images)
Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images

The pair also allegedly divulged classified Ukrainian information to Moscow.

"Despite the intended terrorist attack, which was meant to be a gift to Putin prior to the inauguration, the Russian special services failed," Malyuk said in a statement.

The White House called the alleged plot to assassinate Zelenskyy "very concerning news."

"Obviously we are glad that the potential assassination attempt was averted," press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "I don't have anything beyond that to share. Certainly would refer you to the Ukrainian government. It is certainly concerning news."

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matt Miller added, "Obviously, it just speaks to the depravity that we've seen on display from the Putin regime since the outset of this conflict."

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