One of the first video messages received from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed the embattled leader speaking to members of the European Union; during the chat, he mentioned that he was “Target Number One,” with his family following as “Target Number Two.” However, Zelenskyy refused to leave Ukraine, even after US President Joe Biden offered assistance in evacuation.
At least one hit squad sent to take out Zelenskyy has been “eliminated,” according to Ukrainian officials. The squad was made up of “elite Chechen commandos” who were directed to find and assassinate the Ukrainian leader.
The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council Oleksiy Danilov told the Ukraine 24 television channel on Wednesday that the Ukrainian defense force encountered not one but two “death squads” on Tuesday, and the commandos were summarily eradicated.
This was made possible due to intelligence provided to Ukrainian forces regarding a planned attack on Zelenskyy.
A translator for Danilov related: “The special operation that was to be carried out directly by the Kadyrovites to eliminate our president is fully known to us today, and I can say that we received information from representatives of the FSB, who today have no desire to take part in this bloody war.” The FSB is an agency that replaced the KGB of the Soviet Union. It is considered the “principal security agency” of Russia.
If the intelligence was provided to Ukrainians by the FSB, that would serve as more evidence that the Russian people do not nor do many of the Russian forces agree with the Russian invasion, as is the assertion of many US senior officials. Reports hold that between 2,000 and 6,000 Russian people have been arrested for protesting the invasion; protests have been documented in at least 54 Russian cities. Unconfirmed reports hold that Russian soldiers in large part were told this invasion was a “military exercise.” Whether these reports are accurate or if the intelligence surrounding the Zelenskyy assassination came from the FSB is uncertain.
Fox News Digital reported Monday that the Ukrainian military had “outperformed” expectations of the Russian military, and that Vladimir Putin had sent Chechen soldiers to aid the Russians in the invasion.
The leader of the Chechen Republic is Ramzan Kadyrov, considered an ally of Russia’s president. Chechen commandos are considered “fierce (and) highly skilled.” In fact, the Chechen soldiers are part of Russia’s version of a national guard force. They are said to be quite brutal, even more so than Russian forces have traditionally been reputed. Chechen forces were sent into Syria to “hunt down terrorists” in the past, and they have assisted Russian forces in Georgia as well as in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian official said that Ukrainian forces met one of the death squads in Hostomel, the site of the airport that Russians took on the first day of fighting last week but was grabbed back by Ukrainian forces. The other squad was already under surveillance by the Ukrainian military.
Both American and European military officials say that intelligence points to a much more formidable Ukrainian military than the Russians expected. These same officials echoed that the Russian forces are showing signs of “low morale.”
Russia has a better equipped and highly trained military. Many pundits have referred to the invasion as a David-and-Goliath situation, and the Ukrainian military as well as civilian volunteers have held their own. A forty mile column of Russian military vehicles is headed toward Kyiv, but they seem to have made no real forward progress. Even so, the Ukrainian president as well as senior officials in the government are pleading for assistance in the form of weapons and supplies.
As the invasion stretches into a seventh day, Kharkiv has endured a great amount of shelling and bombing. A police headquarters in Kharkiv was severely damaged Tuesday overnight. Russia appears to be ramping up attacks on civilian targets as well. Meanwhile, those fleeing Ukraine number nearly 900,000; these individuals have headed into Poland and Moldova.