Assassins tried to kill Putin two months ago

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Belarus' counterpart in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 23 - RAMIL SITDIKOV
Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Belarus' counterpart in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 23 - RAMIL SITDIKOV

Russian President Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt shortly after his invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s top military intelligence official said.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, said the Russian authorities scuppered the attack on the Kremlin leader two months earlier.

“There were attempts to kill Putin,” Mr Budanov, 36, told Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian online newspaper.

“There was an assassination attempt recently by, as they call it, representatives of the Caucausus. This was not in the public domain. A completely failed attempt but it really did happen about two months ago.”

Maj Gen Budanov did not provide any details and it was unclear if he was referring to Russia’s North Caucasus that saw two separatist wars in the 1990s or the South Caucasus which includes Georgia.

The claims were published as Moscow on Monday accused Ukrainian nationals of carrying out “terror attacks” on pro-Russian officials installed in occupied regions in southern Ukraine.

Authorities in Kherson, one of those territories under Russian control, announced the introduction of the rouble as the official currency alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia.

And as fighting continued to intensify in the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky warned that nearly 100 soldiers could die every day in the battle over his country’s industrial heartlands.

The Kremlin did not respond to the claimed attempt to kill Mr Putin.

On the battlefield, Mr Putin’s forces continue to sustain heavy losses, according to British intelligence, which claimed Russia has lost as many men in the first three months of the Ukraine conflict as the Soviet Union’s nine-year campaign in Afghanistan.

Russian forces have ramped up efforts aimed at seizing control of Severodonetsk, one of the last big cities under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk province.

The city, which had a pre-war population of around 100,000, is expected to become the next major military struggle after the drawn-out battle over Mariupol came to an end last week.

Local officials have warned the city faces a similar fate to Mariupol, which was razed to the ground under constant bombardment by Russia during a two-month siege.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, accused Moscow of using the same “scorched-earth” tactics.

Mr Haidai said: “Round-the-clock there is shelling, and unfortunately the Russian army chose the scorched earth tactic against the city of Severodonetsk: They are simply systematically destroying the city. Everywhere is being shelled constantly.”

He added: “They are wiping Severodonetsk from the face of the Earth.”

As the dust settles on the battle for Mariupol, the Black Sea port city that fell into Russian hands last week after the final Ukrainian resistance fighters surrendered, the troops were told they would face trial in a pro-Russian breakaway region of the country.

Denis Pushilin, leader of the Kremlin-run Donetsk People’s Republic, said: “The prisoners from Azovstal are being held on the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic.

"Organising an international tribunal on the republic's territory is also planned."

The report, by the Russian Interfax news agency, did not specify what charges the fighters would face.

Ukraine agreed to surrender its position clinging onto Mariupol on the basis that the thousands of remaining fighters would be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war.

In 2012, Russian security services said they had foiled a plot to kill Mr Putin after the election day.

Two suspected killers were arrested and tried in Ukraine as Ukrainian officials then agreed to cooperate with their Russian counterparts. One man was extradited to Russia to serve a ten-year prison sentence while the second one served two years in a Ukrainian jail before he was released and went off to fight pro-Kremlin separatists in eastern Ukraine.

A few years later, Adam Osmayev was injured while his wife died in an apparent assassination attempt outside Kyiv.

American filmmaker Oliver Stone in a 2017 documentary series about the Russian president whom he met on several occasions claimed that Mr Putin had survived five assassination attempts.

Western officials also cast doubt over the apparent assassination attempt on the Russian President.

Mr Putin has maintained his Covid isolation protocols in place to narrow the opportunities of immediate access to him, a source added.

“Was anyone to attempt to do something like that [an assassination attempt] It would be a hugely complex operation,” the offical said.

“He's firmly in control of his inner circle, the country and the decisions that are being made. Irrespective of any speculation about his health, President Putin is still the decision maker."