As the Russian invasion entered its fifth day with negotiation talks still hanging in uncertainty, reports have emerged that more than 400 mercenaries from a private militia were flown in from Africa to assassinate Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
A private militia, known as Wagner Group, is ordered by Putin to eliminate Zelensky along with 23 other government figures, the Times reported. The Wagner Group is an army for hire owned by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is a close ally of the Russian president Putin. Prigozhin is often dubbed as 'Putin's chef.'
The Wagner army was reportedly flown in at least five weeks ago with a huge sum offered for the deadly mission. The target list of the troop reportedly includes Ukraine's prime minister, the entire cabinet, mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko, and his brother Wladimir along with president Zelensky.
The highly-trained military operatives are reportedly hiding and waiting for the green light from Moscow to indulge in their assigned mission. The reports of the Wagner army being on high alert prompted the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to declare a '36-hour hard curfew' on Saturday. Strict orders were passed for everyone to remain indoors with warnings that if they were spotted outside, they risked being 'liquidated' as they might be assumed to be the enemy.
Between 2,000 to 4,000, Wagner Mercenaries Arrived in Ukraine
Quoting a source with knowledge of the Wagner Group's activities, the Times reported that between 2,000 to 4,000 mercenaries had arrived in Ukraine this January, however, with different missions.
Some Wagner mercenaries were reportedly sent to rebel-controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, while some 400 tasked with eliminating Zelenskyy and top Ukrainian leaders are headed to Kyiv.
The group is said to have been tracking the movement of the Ukrainian president along with other officials with claims that they're aware of his whereabouts at all times. Another source noted that the group was told to halt for the moment while Putin prepares for negotiation talks with Ukraine.
However, they have been informed that Putin has no intention to back off as the peace talk is branded only 'smoke and mirrors.'