Putin survived assassination attempt just days into war, Ukraine says

23 May 2022, 14:36 | Updated: 23 May 2022, 14:49

Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt at the beginning of the war, Ukraine has claimed.
Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt at the beginning of the war, Ukraine has claimed. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Ukraine has claimed there was an attempt to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin just days after his troops began their barbaric invasion.

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The "unsuccessful attempt" to kill the Kremlin leader happened two months ago, Ukraine's Chief of Defence Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov claimed.

In an interview with Ukrainska Pravda, Mr Budanov said: "There was an attempt to assassinate Putin.

"He was even attacked, it is said, by representatives of the Caucasus, not so long ago. This is non-public information. [It was an] absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really happened… It was about two months ago.

"I repeat, this attempt was unsuccessful. There was no publicity about this event, but it took place."

The Caucasus is the troubled south-west region of Russia, which is notorious for breakaway movements and insurgency.

Pravda said the full interview with Mr Budanov will be aired tomorrow.

Read more: Putin 'constantly surrounded by doctors' as illness throws Kremlin into chaos

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It comes amid reports that Putin is suffering from a serious illness, possibly cancer.

Former MI6 spy Christopher Steele exclusively told LBC's Eddie Mair there was "chaos" in the Kremlin, with the Russian leader unable to get through meetings of the security council without having to break for medical treatment.

He claimed Putin is "constantly" surrounded by doctors and there is "increasing disarray" in the Kremlin amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Steele said there's "no clear political leadership coming from Putin" who is thought to be seriously ill.

"In the military's terms the structures of command and so on are not functioning as they should," he claimed.

Read more: Russia deploys 'Terminator' tank unit as Putin ramps up Donbas offensive

Oliver Stone (right) was granted access to the Russian leader from 2015 to 2017, conducting a range of interviews.
Oliver Stone (right) was granted access to the Russian leader from 2015 to 2017, conducting a range of interviews. Picture: Alamy

US filmmaker Oliver Stone, who spent years shadowing Putin, has since claimed the Kremlin leader has had cancer.

In a new podcast, Stone - who has not met Putin for three years - claimed that the Russian leader had suffered from cancer, and that he believed he had overcome it.

The Oscar-winning director was granted unprecedented access to the Russian leader from 2015 to 2017, conducting more than a dozen interviews, with no topic off-limits.

"Remember this, Mr Putin has had this cancer and I think he's licked it," he told podcast interviewer Lex Fridman.

The Kremlin has always strongly denied Putin is ill, but critics say mysterious disappearances, long tables and his sometimes bloated, trembling appearance may prove otherwise.

Read more: Russia 'forced to deploy nukes on Europe's border' as Ukraine pushes invaders back

Changes in his appearance and behaviour have led to claims he is suffering from an illness such as Parkinson's, while others have said his symptoms could be side effects of steroid treatment.

There have also reportedly been attempts on Volodymyr Zelenskyy's life by the Russian forces.

The Ukrainian President has survived at least three assassination attempts, officials said.

Mercenaries from the Kremlin-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces were both sent on missions to kill the Ukrainian president, they say.

However, brave anti-war members of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) - formerly the KGB - foiled the attacks by alerting Ukrainian officials, The Times reported.

One of the groups that reportedly tried to kill Zelensky, 44, was the Wagner Group - which was said to have 400 members located in Kyiv as members infiltrated Ukraine with a 24-name "kill list".