Ukraine: Russian informant detained in Zelenskyy assassination plot

In World

KYIV — Ukraine said Monday it had detained an informant who was sharing intelligence with Russia as part of a plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The woman “was preparing an enemy airstrike on Mykolaiv region” during a recent visit by Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, said in a statement released online. 

The SBU said the woman, who was not identified, was collecting information including the time and list of locations that the Ukrainian leader planned to attend in the southern region. 

A spokesperson for the SBU confirmed to NBC News that Ukraine was saying Zelenskyy was the target of the attack.

However, the SBU said it learned of the alleged plot in time and that “additional security measures were taken during the visit.”

A woman, center, being detained by law enforcement after she was accused of plotting to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
A woman, center, was detained by law enforcement after she was accused of involvement in a plot to assassinate Zelenskyy.Ukraine’s Security Services

Zelenskyy regularly moves around the country, visiting front lines and liberated cities, under strict security. In the early days of the war, the Ukrainian leader was thought to be a primary target for Moscow’s forces and the subject of a number of foiled assassination attempts.

The SBU’s statement said it continued to document the woman’s actions to learn more about her alleged Russian handlers, and learned that she was also instructed to locate Ukraine army’s strategic assets near the town of Ochakiv in Mykolaiv region, which the SBU claimed the Russians were planning to use to launch a massive air strike on the region.

The woman was ultimately apprehended “red-handed” as she was trying to pass intelligence to the Russians, the statement said. 

She was only identified as a resident of Ochakiv and a former military shop saleswoman. She is facing up to 12 years in prison if convicted. 

NBC News has not independently verified the Ukrainian claims. There was no immediate public reaction from the Kremlin.

In May, Russia claimed Ukraine tried to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in a drone attack on the Kremlin, which Ukraine denied. Unlike Zelenskyy, Putin rarely makes public appearances near the front lines or even inside Russia.

Both Kyiv and Moscow have been striking deep behind each other’s defensive lines in recent weeks while Ukraine’s counteroffensive has so far failed to produce a clear breakthrough on the battlefield.

Artem Grudinin reported from Kyiv, and Yuliya Talmazan reported from London.

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