Ukrainian Chief of Defense Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt two months ago.
During an interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, Budanov said Putin was targeted for assassination while visiting the Caucasus in early March, shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
The Caucasus sits between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It includes parts of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well as a portion of southern Russia. The Caucasus Mountains create a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The area has long been rife with territorial disputes.
“There was an attempt to assassinate Putin,” Budanov said. “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 2 months ago.
“I repeat, this attempt was unsuccessful. There was no publicity about this event, but it took place.”
Pravda reported that the interview with Budanov is part of a longer article that will be published soon.
A series of claims
This is not the first time Budanov has mentioned a coup against the Russian strongman. In an interview with the British press, he claimed that there would be regime change in Russia by the end of the year. He also claimed – as many observers have for years – that Putin’s health is in serious decline.
He further added that a coup was already underway in Russia that is “impossible to stop.”
Budanov’s initial comments do not seem to link the reported assassination attempt with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. It should be noted that a low-level insurgency by Islamist activists continues in the Caucasus region. Russia invaded parts of Georgia in 2008 on Putin’s orders, and has since arrested some of the insurgency’s leaders.
In 2012, they captured Abu Khalid, a long-serving member of the Ansar mujahedeen in Southern Russia. Abdullah al-Turki, another Islamist insurgent, was killed. The insurgency still exists. Considering the many foreign fighters in the region, including adherents of ISIS and al Qaeda, they could have been the ones targeting Putin.
Further, the region is still reeling from the 2020 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, a close ally of Russia’s, over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia was thought to have a far superior military, but the Azerbaijanis, using Turkish drones to great effect, exacted a heavy toll on Armenia’s Russian-made armor. Lost in the news of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was the fact that tensions were flaring again over the disputed region.
Putin has himself claimed he survived five different assassination attempts. In a series of interviews with American filmmaker Oliver Stone, Putin said, “I do my job, and the security officers do theirs, and they are still performing quite successfully.”
“I trust them,” he said.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 10 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.