Volodymyr Zelensky Assassination Foiled After Russian Tip-Off, Ukraine Says

Russian intelligence officers opposed to their country's invasion of Ukraine reportedly tipped off officials in Kyiv who thwarted an assassination plot against President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The head of Ukraine's National Security Council Oleksiy Danilov said on social network Telegram that two group of assassins from Chechnya had been involved in 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 said that the Chechens 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."

Zelensky has said that he and his family are the Kremlin's top two targets since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week.

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 a "full coordination of the actions of the military, competent alignment of forces and a decisive assault. Everything!"

Kadyrov is the authoritarian 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.

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."

However, he said the Chechen fighters are "a very different story" because they were a set of fighters "brought in to engage in the viciousness of urban warfare."

"These are folks that are going to get into the fight and are not going to care," he said.

Volodymyr Zelensky, DOnald Trump, Ukraine, Russia, funding
This file photo shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during talks at Poland's Presidential Palace on August 31, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. Sean Gallup/Getty Images/Getty

Update 03/02/22, 3:30 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with further information.