In the midst of a war it’s not easy to tell what information is reliable but, with that caveat out of the way, the Telegraph is reporting that an assassination attempt on the life of Ukrainian President Zelensky has failed:
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said an “elite group” of Chechens had arrived in Kyiv to kill the Ukrainian president.
He said they were in two units, one of which was captured, while the other was under fire from Ukrainian forces…
Mr Danilov told Ukrainian television the Chechen units which “came to kill our president” had been “eliminated”.
The information about the attempt is a bit vague but the Mirror has a bit more detail including some intriguing hints about the intelligence that allowed them to stop the Chechen attack.
Speaking on Ukraine 24 TV channel, Danilov said: “We are already aware of the special operation that was to be carried out by Kadyrov forces unit.
“We received the information from representatives of Russia’s Federal Security Service who do not want to take part in this bloody war.
Why would the FSB provide information to Ukraine? This article explains that in more depth. Note that this comes from a news site called Pravda.com.ua which is based in Ukraine and publishes articles in several languages:
According to sources of Ukrainian intelligence services, the neutralisation of the Kadyrovites was made possible by intelligence obtained from an anonymous source who introduced himself as a “Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation officer” who wants to prevent bloodshed. According to this source, and confirmed by intercepted materials, Putin, entrusting Kadyrov with such an important task, in parallel instructed the Federal Security Service of Russia to monitor its implementation. A temporary task force was set up at the Federal Security Service’s headquarters to record every step taken by Kadyrov and people close to him.
After the invasion of Ukraine, a Russian Federal Security Service officer who allegedly opposed the war, and in order to stop the bloodshed as soon as possible, gave the warning information about the route of the Kadyrov column and their role in the special operation against Ukraine to the Ukrainian intelligence services.
On February 26, after reconnaissance using unmanned aerial vehicles, the Armed Forces of Ukraine inflicted a devastating blow on two Kadyrov locations in the Gostomel area. Magomed Tushaev, commander of the 141st Motorised Regiment of the Chechen National Guard of Russia and close to Kadyrov, was killed.
This part seems a bit far-fetched to me. I can believe there are people in all walks of life in Russia who oppose the current invasion but would anyone within the FSB actually take this risk of leaking troop movements to Ukraine? That would certainly be grounds for an unpleasant death sentence in Russia. On the other hand, there have been reports that the Chechens suffered a defeat on Feb. 26th in which a particularly nasty Chechen general was killed:
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) March 1, 2022
But after that report, including apparent confirmation of his death, there were denials which claimed he is still alive. While the details of this story are vague, the general claim that Russia sent soldiers to target Zelensky is not hard to believe. Yesterday, the London Times reported that 400 Russian mercenaries had been sent to Kyiv to kill Zelensky:
The Wagner Group, a private militia run by one of President Putin’s closest allies and operating as an arm-length branch of the state, flew in mercenaries from Africa five weeks ago on a mission to decapitate Zelensky’s government in return for a handsome financial bonus.
Information about their mission reached the Ukrainian government on Saturday morning and hours later Kyiv declared a 36-hour “hard” curfew to sweep the city for Russian saboteurs, warning civilians that they would be seen as Kremlin agents and risked being “liquidated” if they stepped outside.
To be clear, the assassination attempt being reported today didn’t come from among those mercenaries. Still it’s believable that Putin sent multiple groups to Kyiv with the goal of taking out the leadership of the country. Whether or not Ukraine defeated those forces thanks to help from the FSB is another matter.