Russia was ‘just minutes away’ from capturing Zelensky, close aide says: report

Published on Apr 30, 2022 06:52 AM IST

Recounting the first evening of the invasion on Feb 24, Yermak said that gun fights broke out around the government quarter while Zelensky and his family were still inside. The presidential guard tried to seal the compound with whatever they could find.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.(File photo via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.(File photo via AP)

As the Ukraine war enters 66th day of Russian assault, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s aide has revealed that the Russian troops came to Kyiv with the intention of “capturing the president and his family,” and were just “minutes away from finding them in the first hours of the invasion” on February 24.

In an interview titled ‘Inside Zelensky's World' published by the TIME, the Ukraine president’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak narrates how presidential offices and government quarters came on Russian radar and their “gunfires audible inside Zelensky’s office.” “Russian troops came within minutes of finding him and his family in the first hours of the war,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.

"It soon became clear the presidential offices were not the safest place to be. The military informed Zelensky that Russian strike teams had parachuted into Kyiv to kill or capture him and his family. “Before that night, we had only ever seen such things in the movies,” Andriy Yermak said.

Recounting the first evening of the invasion on Feb 24, Yermak said that gun fights broke out around the government quarter while Zelensky and his family were still inside. The presidential guard tried to seal the compound with whatever they could find. “Guards inside the compound shut the lights and brought bulletproof vests and assault rifles for Zelensky and about a dozen of his aides. Only a few of them knew how to handle the weapons,” he said. “Zelensky later told me that his wife and children were still there at the time,” Yermak told the TIME magazine.

Two days after the invasion, the US government had offered a safe evacuation from the war-torn Ukraine to Zelensky - which he declined saying, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” UK prime minister Boris Johnson also said that he had offered Zelensky and his family refuge in the United Kingdom around the time Russia invaded Ukraine, reports said.

As Putin’s “special military operation” is in its 9th week, Ukraine on Friday warned that peace talks with Moscow were in danger of collapse as Russia was pounding areas in the east, Reuters reported. The Russian forces have turned their focus toward Ukraine's east and south after failing to capture the capital Kyiv.Ukraine and Russia have not held face-to-face peace talks since March 29. Meanwhile, shelling and air raids continued in several cities of the war-torn nation as both the United States and Britain have voiced support for Ukraine.

(With inputs from news agencies)

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