BATTLE-hardened Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has shrugged off repeated Russian attempts to assassinate him as no worse than a bout of Covid.
The lionhearted leader said at least “five or six” plots to kill him had been foiled by Ukraine’s intelligence services.
President Zelensky shrugged off attempts to assassinate him as no worse than a bout of Covid[/caption]
The Ukrainian President met with The Sun’s Jerome Starkey at his fortress Kyiv headquarters[/caption]
Zelensky admitted he had lost track of all the attempts to kill him since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine[/caption]
In a world exclusive interview, the president also said the will of Ukraine to defeat Vladimir Putin’s Russia remained strong — and “in the morale, there is no stalemate”.
He said the first plot caused a panic – like the first outbreak of Covid.
But after that they weren’t so bad.
Speaking to The Sun at his fortress Kyiv headquarters, Zelensky admitted he had lost track of all the attempts to kill him since unleashed a full scale invasion on Feb 24 last year.
He said: “The first one is very interesting, when it is the first time, and after that it is just like Covid.
“First of all people don’t know what to do with it and it’s looking very scary.
“And then after that, it is just intelligence just sharing with you detail that one more group came toto [attempt] this.”
Russian special forces parachuted into Kyiv to kill him on the first day of Putin’s full scale invasion, on Feb 24 last year.
His bodyguards sealed off his office with makeshift barricades and bits of plywood.
Zelensky and his closest aides were issued with rifles and body armour.
One saidwas like a “madhouse”.
But when British and US officials offered to spirit the president out of the capital – amid fears it could fall within hours – he replied with the legendary line: “I need ammo, not a ride.”
Later, as battles raged outside Kyiv, Zelensky walked outside the compound toa defiant selfie video that rallied Ukraine’s resistance by proving he was still in the capital.
Almost two years later, Zelensky said Russia still “wants very much” to topple him from.
He even knows the code-name of their latest mission to oust him and itsis the end of the year.
He said: “The name of operation is Maidan 3. It is meant to change the president. It’s bye bye.
“Maybe it’s not by killing. I mean it’s changing. They they will use any any instruments they have.
“So that’s the idea, to the end of the year… they have even named the operation.
“But you see we can live with it.”
He ruled out holding elections due to take place law, impossible due of the war and would divide the country when people were focused on fighting Russia.year insisting it was illegal under martial
In August Ukraine’s intelligence service said it had foiled a plot to kill him with an air strike the southern city of Mykolaiv.
The SBU said it arrested a woman accused of passing details of his visit to Russia.
One of Zelensky’s aides said at least dozen attempts had been made on his life within the first few weeks of the war.
But when The Sun asked how many plots he survived, he admitted: “I really don’t know.”
And he refused to be drawn on whether Ukraine had carried out its own assassinations in reply.
A number of pro-Russian collaborators have been killed or injured by car bombs and booby-traps believed to be the work of Ukrainian special forces and partisans.
Zelensky told The Sun: “I can’t discuss with you any special operations of Ukrainian intelligence or Secret Service or of some special forces.
“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.”
Pressed on whether Ukraine would take a chance to kill despot Putin if an opportunity arose, he said: “That’s war, and Ukraine has all the rights to defend our land.”
We went through multiple layers of airport style security – even surrendering our pens – to meet Zelensky in his office.
Many of the windows were blocked up sandbags and a number of long, high-ceilinged corridors were kept in darkness for security, his aides said.
Wearing a trademark sweatshirt emblazoned with the trident symbol of Ukraine, Zelensky admitted his country’s fight back this year had not gone as well as he hoped.
Troops in a major counter-offensive advanced only 10 miles in five months.
He acknowledged the lack of progress had discouraged some allies who doubt whether Ukraine can expel Russian forces.
And he admitted: “We need more successful results on the.”
But he denied his top General’s claims that the war had reached a stalemate.
He said: “In the morale, there is no stalemate.
“We are at our home. Russians are on our land. Therefore there is no stalemate in this.
“As regards the, there is no stalemate. Russians have more power in that.
“And really, how to move forward when you cant control the sky?”
The US Congress has also blocked plans for $60 billion in aid amid Republican claims the war in Ukraine come become a “forever war”.
But Zelensky vowed to fight on and insisted the war was “not a movie”.
And he said the lack of progress on land had was balanced by successes in the Black Sea, which he said was also part of the counter-offensive.
A series of missile and droneon Russian warships forced Putin to withdraw his Black Sea fleet eastwards and allowed Ukraine to open a grain export corridor that hugs the sea’s western shore.
Zelensky said: “We really destroyed part of the Russian fleet.
“We did it. We moved them. They don’t have such total influence on the Black Sea region.”
He admitted people were weary of war but said there was no appetite to sue for peace.
He said his people were tired of “permanent air raids,” tired of being shelled, tired of having theirdestroyed and their lived ones killed.
“But if you ask them are you willing to give up to Russia, our lands?
“Are you ready to talk to Russians on how to end all this? Are you ready for compromise, personally, with Putin and are you tired of this?
“They will tell you we are not tired. We are ready to stand further.”
He added: “We do not believe that Putin nor Russia, we do not believe that they want to finish the war.
“They want to kill us. And we want justice.
“Therefore, we are not speaking about peace at any price.
“We are talking about a just peace for it is very important when we are speaking about weariness, where does it come from.
“Is it difficult on the battlefield? Yes. But making friends or entering diplomatic table now with Russia? No!”
To watch The Sun’s full interview with Zelensky, click here.
When The Sun asked how many plots he survived, Zelensky admitted: ‘I really don’t know’[/caption]
Pressed on whether Ukraine would take a chance to kill despot Putin, he said: ‘That’s war, and Ukraine has all the rights to defend our land’[/caption]
Defence Editor Jerome Starkey met with Zelensky in Kyiv[/caption]