Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed that he has lost count of the number of assassination attempts made against him since the start of the war.
Speaking at his fortified Kyiv headquarters, Zelenskyy told the UK-based newspaper The Sun: “I really don’t know” when asked how many plots he had survived.
The first attempt, he recalled, caused a panic “like the first outbreak of Covid.” But after that, he said, they “weren’t so bad.”
Zelenskyy also confirmed that Russia still “wants very much” to topple him from power, and even knows the codename of their latest mission to oust him, which has a deadline of the end of the year.
“The name of the operation is Maidan 3,” he said. “It’s meant to change the president. It’s bye-bye. Maybe it’s not by killing. I mean it’s changing. They will use any instruments they have.”
Recounting the initial day of Putin’s invasion, where Russian special forces parachuted into Kyiv, he described the makeshift defenses erected around his office and the chaotic atmosphere.
Zelenskyy rejected offers from British and US officials to evacuate him, declaring, “I need ammo, not a ride.” Even as battles raged, he defiantly recorded a selfie video to reassure Ukraine of his presence in the capital.
The Ukrainian president ruled out holding elections that had been due to take place next year, insisting it was illegal under martial law, impossible because of the war and would divide the country when people were focused on fighting Russia.
He also refused to be drawn on whether or not Ukraine had carried out its own assassinations in reply to Russia’s attempts on his life.
“I can’t discuss with you any special operations of Ukrainian intelligence or Secret Service or of some special forces,” he said. “There are some moments which we are not discussing. Not only inside Russia, there are things we are not discussing on our temporarily occupied territories.”
Despite the challenges, Zelenskyy vowed to fight on and insisted the war was “not a movie.”
He said: “We are fighting against a very strong enemy. But we are fighting for our home and for our future. And we will not give up.”
While acknowledging the need for more success on the battlefield, Zelenskyy rejected the notion of a stalemate in morale, emphasizing that Ukrainians are on their home turf.
He also highlighted the challenges in controlling the sky and addressed the US Congress’s decision to block aid, vowing to persevere despite concerns about a prolonged conflict.
Zelenskyy pointed to successes in the Black Sea, where missile and drone strikes on Russian warships forced Putin to withdraw, enabling Ukraine to establish a grain export corridor.
Despite weariness among the populace, he insisted there was no appetite for premature peace, emphasizing the pursuit of a just resolution in the ongoing conflict with Russia.