Elite hit squad sent to assassinate Zelenskyy has been ‘eliminated,’ Ukraine says

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to send storied Chechen fighters into Ukraine as part of his unprovoked invasion of the neighboring country appears to have backfired.

That’s according to Fox News, which cited a Ukrainian defense official to report that a team of elite Chechen commandos sent into Ukraine to hunt down and assassinate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was “eliminated” by security forces.

In a televised speech last week, Zelensky said that he was Putin’s top target, “The enemy marked me as target number one, and my family as target number two.”

The Ukrainian president has rallied his outmatched country in the war with Russia and his efforts are seen as a leading inspiration in the unexpected resistance to the invasion. At one point last week when the U.S. offered him transportation out of the country, Zelensky replied, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov reportedly told the Ukraine 24 TV channel that defense forces countered two death squads sent after Zelenskyy Tuesday, after getting intelligence about a planned attack and destroyed the elite Chechen unit, Fox News reported, citing a translation of his remarks.

“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,” Danilov said.

FSB is an acronym for Russia’s Federal Security Service, and Danilov’s claim that they were tipped off to the death squad by these sources could indication dissention in Putin’s ranks.

“They were divided in two groups, we were tracking them,” Danilov said, according to the New York Post. “One group was handled near Hostomel [northwest of Kyiv], the other one is in our sights.”

“We won’t give up our president, our country,” he added. “This is our land, be gone.”

The Chechen Republic, a semiautonomous part of Russia, is led by Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov, whose commandos have proven to be fierce, highly skilled fighters.

Yet, as noted above, Putin’s move to employ Chechen fighters may have backfired with the Ukrainian military outperformed Russian expectations.

“The Chechens are part of a Russian national guard unit and are well known for fighting insurgencies, using brutal tactics that even jolted Russia during its two brutal wars in the ’90s against them,” Fox News reported. “The Chechens have been employed to hunt down terrorists in Syria and used by Russia to fight elsewhere, including in Georgia. They also fought the Ukrainians in Donbas when hostilities began there in 2014.”

Russia has met stiffer resistance than expected, as various reports noted that Putin expected to reach his objectives in 4-5 days, which was to decapitate the Ukrainian government and install a regime friendly to Moscow. Ukraine has handed out rifles to citizens in a call to defend their homeland and Ukrainians were seen in one video making Molotov cocktails to battle Russian tanks. The invasion is almost a week old and there are reports of a huge Russian military convoy closing in on the capital city of Kyiv. The convoy has reportedly been stalled somewhat and the reason behind this is not clear.

Putin has reportedly changed tactics somewhat, after initial efforts to limit civilian casualties. There has been more indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas over the past two days. Ultimately, Russia has  vastly superior military and experts predict that should Putin stay on the offensive, that Ukraine will ultimately fall. Time is not on his side as strict financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe are limiting his war purse.

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