The British government has reported that the Russian mercenary company, the Wagner Group, has been hired by Russia to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky following Putin’s stalled invasion of Ukraine. They were first reportedly flown in from Africa to Donetsk during the onset of the invasion. However, it seems that armed reinforcements had arrived just this week, according to reports.

This announcement comes with the British government’s sanctions against the Wagner group following the West’s massive additions to the economic sanctions to around 400 Russian individuals and entities, including the Russian Duma and 40 defense companies, in an attempt to further cripple its economy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (President Of Ukraine from Україна, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons)

It can be remembered that the Russians had targeted Zelensky during the onset of the invasion, where Chechen special forces were released into Ukraine to hunt down Zelensky, his family, and their two children. The Chechen forces were allegedly given a kill list comprised of top government officials they needed to take out so that the invasion would go relatively smoother, taking out all Ukrainian government officials so nobody could lead the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Furthermore, the alleged plan was to take out Zelensky and replace him with a pro-Russian leader.

A month into the conflict, there had been a report of a Ukrainian Mayor being killed by the Russians. Mayor of Gostomel Yuri Illich Prylypko was shot dead while he was distributing aid to his people. Another Ukrainian official, Mayor Volodymyr Struk, the pro-Russian mayor of the Kreminna, was also shot dead after being kidnapped from his home. However, it is unlikely that he would have been killed by Russian forces as Adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko described him as a “traitor.”

There were also several reports of mayors being kidnapped. Such was the case of Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, who was kidnapped by “armed men” but was subsequently freed in exchange for nine captive young Russian soldiers.

The Ukrainian government also reported that Zelensky had experienced assassination attempts. However, none of the said attempts were successful as Zelensky was held in a secret location within Kyiv.

Furthermore, the Ukrainian Forces had successfully killed and destroyed a Chechen special forces column composed of around 56 tanks located in Hostomel within the vicinity of Kyiv. The Kadyrovites suffered a huge loss from this ambush as their top general Magomed Tushayev, head of the 141 Motorized Regiment of Chechnya, had also been killed in the encounter.

It is perhaps the loss of the Chechen forces that Russia decided to employ the help of the Wagner Group. They had reportedly sent an unknown number of armed militants just this week, with the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine stating that they were also out for the heads of the top military and political leaders of Ukraine.