Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr ZelenskyAlexei NikolskyTASS via Getty Images

Hundreds of Russian mercenaries are operating in the Ukrainian capital city as part of an effort to locate and assassinate the Ukrainian president, according to a report by The Times.

Over 400 – and as many as 2,000 - mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private militia run by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, are reportedly operating in Kyiv, after flying in to Russia from Africa five weeks ago, infiltrating the border into eastern Ukrainian provinces claimed by pro-Russian militia groups.

According to the report, the mercenaries are working on behalf of the Russian government, and have been offered substantial bonuses for the assassination of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky

Russia reportedly hopes to seize control of the Ukrainian government if Zelensky is assassinated.

Ukraine is said to have received information regarding the assassination plot on Saturday, leading to the imposition of a 36-hour curfew on Kyiv, as security forces combed the city for Russian agents.

The report claimed that mercenaries had been given 23 targets for assassination. Aside from Zelensky, members of his cabinet are also being targeted, along with the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko.

The New York Times reported that mercenaries from the Wagner Group were involved in sabotage operations against Ukrainian forces, as well as in ‘false flag’ efforts, to frame Ukraine for attacks on civilians.