Russian military members tipped off their Ukrainian counterparts to an assassination attempt against President Volodymyr Zelensky. The incident is yet another example that some rank and file Russian soldiers are opposed to their country’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
The head of Ukraine’s National Security Council Oleksiy Danilov announced on social network Telegram Wednesday that two groups of assassins from Chechnya were behind the plot.
“We are well aware of the special operation that was to take place directly by the Kadyrovites to eliminate our president,” Danilov said, referring to the fighters from the Caucasus Russian republic whose leader Ramzan Kadyrov pledges unswerving loyalty to President Vladimir Putin.
Danilov announced late Tuesday on Ukrainian parliament’s official television station Rada TV that Ukraine received intelligence on the assassination attempt from agents of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), he said.
The assassins had been divided into two groups, with one under fire in Gostomel, north of the capital Kyiv and the other was “eliminated.”
“The Kadyrov forces unit, which came to kill our President, was eliminated,” Danilov told Ukraine 24 TV. “We will not give our President or our country to anyone. This is our land, get out of here.”
The presence of Chechen soldiers on the ground in Ukraine could change the calculus of the war, according to CNA military analyst Michael Kofman.
“A lot of Russian soldiers are young, they don’t understand why they are in this war, their morale is low, they have no interest in invading Ukraine,” Kofman told the War on the Rocks podcast on Sunday, adding that many “young Russian soldiers are not going to fire on Ukrainians.”
While Russia has been reluctant to reveal its casualties during the war, Kadyrov said on Tuesday that Chechens had been killed during the conflict.
In a Telegram post, he said that “unfortunately, there are already losses among the natives of the Chechen Republic. Two died, six more were injured to varying degrees.”
Although a Putin loyalist, Kadyrov wrote on Telegram on Sunday that the tactics in Ukraine “are too slow,” are “not effective” and called for the Russian president to give harsher orders.
He said there needed to be “full coordination of the actions of the military, competent alignment of forces and a decisive assault. Everything!”
Kadyrov is the totalitarian ruler of Chechnya and is accused by rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, of using torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings tolerated by the Kremlin to maintain his rule.