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Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate, made the admission in an interview with German publication Welt.
“Putin is noticing that we are getting closer and closer to him, but he is also afraid of being killed by his own people,” Skibitsky was quoted as saying, describing the assassination of Putin as a top priority.
“Many people in Russia still support this ‘special operation’ [against Ukraine], but thanks to social media and phone checks, we know that so many Russians have died now that it scares people,” he said.
He said similar plans were in the works for Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose mercenaries have been accused of grisly war crimes against Ukrainian troops.
“Our priority is to eliminate the unit commander who orders his men to attack,” he said.
Asked about Kyiv’s “relationship” with Prigozhin, Skibitsky said bluntly, “We’re trying to kill him.”
As for who tops Ukraine’s hit list, he said Putin is number one “because he coordinates and decides what happens.”
“But in the end, everyone will have to answer for their actions. Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu planned the attack and now they cannot turn back.”
Asked if propagandists, oligarchs and civilians would also be considered valid targets, Skibitsy responded, “We are at war and these are our enemies. If an important figure manufactures and finances weapons for [Russia], then his elimination would save the lives of many civilians ... According to international conventions, this is a legitimate goal.”
Moscow accused Ukraine of trying to assassinate Putin earlier this month in a brazen drone attack on the Kremlin, though the Russian leader was not present at the time the drones struck. Prior to that, in late April, Bild claimed Ukrainian security services had carried out an unsuccessful assassination attempt by sending a drone packed with explosives to attack Putin as he visited an industrial park near Moscow.