Suspect’s tips were supposed to help Russian military plan an airstrike in Mykolaiv while the Ukrainian president was visiting.
Ukrainian intelligence has detained a shop assistant over an alleged plot to assassinate Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president.
The Ukrainian intelligence agency SBU said on Monday it detained an unnamed woman who had been gathering intelligence about Mr Zelensky’s visit to the central Mykolaiv region at the end of July.
The informant’s tips were supposed to help the Russian military plan an airstrike while Mr Zelensky was there.
“Primarily, the suspect was trying to find out the schedule and the itinerary for the head of the state’s visit to the region,” the SBU said.
The security agents “took extra steps to ensure security” ahead of Mr Zelensky’s visit without making an immediate arrest as they kept tabs on the woman’s communications with an unidentified handler from Moscow.
‘New, massive air strike’
That helped the SBU learn that the woman had also been trying to “identify the location of electronic warfare systems and warehouses with ammunition”. It said: “According to our information, the Russians had been hoping to use this intelligence to plot a new, massive air strike on the Mykolaiv region.”
The woman was reportedly detained just as she was about to send the intelligence to her Russian contact.
Ukrainian intelligence identified the woman as a shop assistant from a store inside a military base in the small Black Sea town of Ochakiv, south of Mykolaiv, who had reportedly been travelling across the region and photographing Ukrainian military sites.
She is also suspected of using her friends and work contacts to get sensitive information they did not know would be used against Ukraine.
Photos released by the SBU on Monday showed a dark-haired, stocky-build, short woman, standing in a room with two SBU agents.
The intelligence agency blurred her face and did not identify her.
Messages from Russian supervisor
The SBU also released screenshots of what is purported to be the messages she had exchanged with her Russian supervisor.
In one message chain the woman told her Russian contact about Mr Zelensky’s upcoming visit to a hospital in her town. The supervisor then asked her to find out more and said “it’d be nice to take a photo”. They added: “No one is going to suspect anything if you just take a photo of the hospital.”
The SBU also released what it said were the woman’s hand-written notes, one of them showing the lay-out of a military base, marking barracks, canteen and an infirmary.
Another note looked at a list of targets that was titled “To whack” and listed a “base”, “air defence depot” and an “artillery battery”.
The woman has been arrested, according to the SBU, and faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted./telegraph/