According to a top intelligence official in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin was nearly assassinated at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine he ordered. The official, Major General Kyryolo Budanov, has also claimed that a coup was underway in the country.

“There was an attempt to assassinate Putin. He was even attacked, it is said, by representatives of the Caucasus, not so long ago,” Budanov told Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda. “[It was an] absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really happened.”

The Caucasus is a geographical area between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea that includes Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and a small part of Southern Russia. Budanov said the attack occurred two months ago, which would have been late March. His claim has not been confirmed by any western intelligence.

In a 2017 interview with director Oliver Stone for a docuseries, Putin claimed that he has survived at least five attempts at his life. While this is a high number, it is dwarfed by the number of times that Ukrainian officials say their President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has escaped attempted assassination.

Zelenskyy reportedly avoided being killed nearly 12 times in the first two weeks of the invasion. Now that months have gone by, he told Axios that the repeated attempts on his life are “repetitive” and now feel like the film Groundhog Day to him.

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