Ukraine has admitted its special units are trying to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin as a top priority.
Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is also on the hit list alongside senior Russian military commanders including General Sergei ‘Armageddon’ Surovikin, the second most powerful commander in Ukraine’s military intelligence service, Vadym Skibitsky, said.
But Skibitsky told Die Welt that it’s difficult to assassinate Putin because the Russian despot ‘stays holed up’ although he ‘is now beginning to stick his head out’.
But when he does appear publicly the Ukrainian spy agency is ‘not sure whether it’s really him’, Skibitsky said in a reference to Putin’s alleged use of body doubles even at prominent events.
Skibitsky said Putin ‘notices that we’re getting ever closer to him’. His comments come as US spy agencies said they believe that a drone attack on the Kremlin this month was likely orchestrated by Ukrainian spies or military intelligence units.
The drone attack earlier this month appeared to be part of a series of covert operations that have made officials in the United States – Ukraine’s biggest supplier of military equipment – uncomfortable, reports the New York Times.
The US spy agencies conducted assessments based on intercepted Russian and Ukrainian communicated and found that the drone attack was probably orchestrated by Kyiv.
But a senior Ukrainian presidential aide said on Thursday that Ukraine had nothing to do with a ‘strange and pointless’ drone attack on the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, Skibitsky said Putin was also ‘afraid of being killed by his own people.’
Skibitsky said Putin is top of the list for assassination targets ‘because he coordinates and decides what happens’.
But he said there is a long list of assassination targets including Shougi, as ‘everyone will have to answer for their actions’ in the Ukraine war.
‘Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu planned the attack and now they cannot turn back,’ Skibitsky said.
Unit commanders who order blood-spilling strikes on Ukraine were also on this list.
Skibitsky said: ‘Many people in Russia still support this ‘special operation’ [war against Ukraine], but thanks to social media and phone checks, we know that so many Russians have died now that it scares people.’
The ‘business elite’ were also a threat to Putin because ‘they are losing billions of dollars’, Skibitsky added.
Prigozhin was today sanguine on the threat to kill him.
‘I always say that the enemy must be treated with respect,’ Prigozhin said. ‘Of course, I respect their decision as well.
‘Of course, Prigozhin, as one of the important actors in this war, must be eliminated.
‘This is 100 per cent true, so they are doing absolutely the right steps.’
Skibitsky claimed that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov was also on the wanted list even though he had ‘realised that strategically the Putin regime has already lost’.
General Sergei ‘Armageddon’ Surovikin was also named as being on the kill list.
‘We are at war and these are our enemies,’ Skibitsky said. ‘If an important figure produces and finances weapons for them, then its elimination would save the lives of many civilians.
‘And then he gets wiped out. According to international conventions, it is then a legitimate target.’
Russia has already accused Ukraine of seeking to assassinate Putin with a strike on the Kremlin on 3 May.
Moscow claimed two Ukrainian kamikaze drones exploded over Putin’s Kremlin residence in the early hours in ‘a planned terrorist act and assassination attempt’ – though the Russian despot was not present at the time of the attack.