The Ukraine security service claims to have thwarted an assassination attempt against the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, following the arrest of a woman suspected of gathering intelligence on his activities.
The anonymous woman was believed by Ukraine’s security service, the SBU, to be gathering information regarding Zelenskiy’s journey to the southern Mykolaiv region, where Russia was planning a big air strike.
Zelenskiy wrote on his Telegram channel that the head of the SBU had briefed him on the “fight against traitors.”
The Kremlin branded a drone attack on Moscow earlier this year, ascribed to Ukraine’s military, as an attempt to assassinate Vladimir Putin, and threatened retaliation.
Zelenskiy had also stated at the start of the war that he was aware that Putin wanted him dead. More than 400 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner gang were reportedly in Kyiv in February 2022 with orders to kill Zelenskiy as part of a “decapitation strategy.”
In March of last year, aides said that Zelenskiy had escaped three murder attempts in one week, and that there had been dozens more.
According to The Guardian, Ukraine was made aware of the latest plot ahead of time, and additional security precautions were implemented during Zelenskiy’s visit.
According to the security services, the suspect was assisting Russia in planning a “massive airstrike on the Mykolaiv region.”
According to the SBU, despite the fact that the individual “tried to establish the time and list of locations of the approximate route of the head of state in the territory of the region,” agents obtained information about the suspect’s “subversive activities” and subsequently implemented additional security measures.
The SBU released a blurred image of the suspect being captured by disguised officers in a kitchen, along with phone texts and handwritten notes.
The woman was apparently looking for information on the location of electronic warfare devices and munitions stores.
The SBU said its officers continued to observe the suspect in order to learn more about her Russian handlers and assignments.
Officers subsequently nabbed the lady “red-handed” as she sought to give intelligence material to Russian secret services, according to the SBU.
The woman was believed to live in the Mykolaiv region’s small southern town of Ochakiv and to have previously worked in a store at a military base there.
She allegedly photographed areas and attempted to obtain information from personal contacts in the region. She could face charges of illegal disclosure of information about weapon and troop movements. She faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
Five killed in Russian missile strike eastern Ukraine
Meanwhile, officials say a Russian missile attack on residential buildings in the eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk killed at least five persons.
According to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko, four civilians and one official were murdered, and 31 people were injured.
President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that there were “victims” in the incident but did not specify how many.
Rescue efforts were still underway.
Pokrovsk is located around 70 kilometres (43 miles) north-west of Donetsk, which is under Russian control. It had a population of roughly 60,000 people before the war.
Mr. Klymenko stated that the first strike killed four individuals and that the second strike killed an emergency services officer.
According to him, the injured included 19 police officers, five rescuers, and a child.
Mr Zelensky claimed the Russian attacks hit a “ordinary residential building,” sharing a video of a five-story building with its top floor damaged.
It shows bystanders cleaning rubble and rescuers assisting patients into ambulances amid scenes of widespread turmoil and uncertainty.
The strikes, according to Donetsk area chief Pavlo Krylenko, damaged two “private sector residential buildings, a hotel, catering establishments, shops, and administrative buildings.”
He issued a warning about the “threat of repeated attacks” and asked citizens to seek shelter.
According to Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s Presidential Office, at least two civilians were also killed on Monday evening when Russian guided bombs targeted “private houses” in Kharkiv Region.
According to him, five people were injured in those incidents.
According to Ukrainian officials, the attacks came a day after a Russian “guided bomb” struck a blood transfusion centre in north-eastern Ukraine, killing two people.
Mr Zelensky attempted to defend the attacks on Russian ships in the Black Sea on Sunday, telling the Argentine daily La Nacion that Ukraine “must find another method to end the blockade of our water.”
“If Russia continues to dominate its territory in the Black Sea, blockading, and firing missiles, then Ukraine will do the same, which is a fair protection of our chances,” he said.
Russia pulled out of a treaty enabling Ukrainian grain exports and warned ships in the Black Sea that they could face military action, leading Ukraine to issue a similar announcement.
Last week, a Russian tanker with 11 crew members was attacked in the Black Sea by what Moscow claimed was a Ukrainian attack. Although Ukraine has not commented officially, a security source told the BBC that a maritime drone was used.
This came after a similar maritime drone attack on a Russian naval ship in the Russian port of Novorossiysk, a significant export hub for Russia.
Naval drones, sometimes known as sea drones, are small, autonomous vehicles that operate on or beneath the surface of the ocean.
Ukraine has been attempting to reclaim territory that Russia has captured, but has made only marginal progress since initiating a counter-offensive two months ago.