Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and defense intelligence head Kyrylo Budanov were allegedly targeted in a foiled assassination plot by members of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) said in a new report Monday that it was able to prevent the allegedly planned killings that also would have taken aim at “a well-known Ukrainian activist” who was not identified by name. The would-be assassins were purportedly promised rewards of $100,000 to $150,000 per kill, the SSU said.
Newsweek was not able to independently verify the report and contacted Russia’s defense and foreign ministries for confirmation and comment.
Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, has now raged on for more than five months despite initial beliefs that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army would be able to secure a speedy victory in his “special military operation.” While maps from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) show that Russia has managed to occupy southern and eastern parts of the country, Ukraine has yet to abandon its counteroffensive, and neither side currently appears poised to declare victory.
Vasyl Malyuk, the acting head of the SSU, suggested that the alleged assassination attempt was in response to Russia’s lack of victory in the war so far.
“The enemy cannot win on the battlefield, so he resorts to his usual methods—he tries to organize assassination attempts on the military and heads of Ukrainian authorities,” Malyuk said in a statement. “And thereby once again proves to the whole world that Russia is a terrorist state that does not follow any civilized rules. But we perfectly understand what to expect from the Russian Federation, so we act in advance and neutralize the enemy’s special operations in advance.”
“It was established” that the group behind the assassination plot was made up of Russian GRU members, including a resident of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Luhansk region who was part of the self-proclaimed separatist Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), the SSU said.