Is Zelensky’s Life In Danger Now That He’s On Russia’s Wanted List?

The impending end of Zelensky’s term on 21 May sets the backdrop against which to analyze this development.

There’s been a lot of speculation about why Russia just put Zelensky, new National Security and Defense Council chief Litvinenko, former President Poroshenko, and two former financial officials on its Interior Ministry’s wanted list, among the others that have already been on it. The West generally considers it a symbolic move while some in the Alt-Media Community are convinced that Russia plans to secretly rendition or possibly even assassinate them.

The impending end of Zelensky’s term on 21 May sets the backdrop against which to analyze this development. Former Israeli Prime Minister Bennett claimed in early 2023 that President Putin promised him the year prior not to harm his Ukrainian counterpart, but some believe that this “security guarantee” will only last so long as Zelensky’s term remains legitimate. Clinging to power after 21 May on legally dubious pretexts, they believe, could lead to the Russian leader reconsidering his stance.

Foreign Minister Lavrov’s remark in late March that “Perhaps, we won’t need to recognize anything” after that day was interpreted by some as implying that he might already be overthrown or killed before that happens. Poland’s arrest last month of a man who they accused of passing along details of Rzeszow Airport’s security to Russia with a view towards helping it assassinate Zelensky during his next visit there lent credence to this theory among some despite this arguably being a case of Ukrainian entrapment.

Former Russian President and incumbent Deputy Chair of the Security Council Medvedev, however, reacted to the aforementioned news by wondering whether “It may be the first piece of evidence that people in the West have made a decision to liquidate him.” Basically, while President Putin might keep his promise not to harm Zelensky even if he clings to power after 21 May, Medvedev hinted that the West might actually kill him but then possibly try to frame Russia.

Another factor to keep in mind when assessing Russia’s motives for placing Zelensky and those other officials, both presently serving and former, on its wanted list at this precise moment in time is the worst-case scenario that the Ukrainian Intelligence Committee warned about in late February. They expect that Russia could achieve a military breakthrough later this month or next, which might coincide with the supposedly Russian-backed protest-driven political collapse of the Ukrainian government.

The timing might also overlap with next month’s Swiss “peace talks” in mid-June and thus transform them from a planned morale-boosting stunt into a panicked powwow of Western leaders over the terms of Ukraine’s negotiated surrender to Russia. Even if the Ukrainian government doesn’t collapse, any Russian military breakthrough might still lead to urgently renewed interest in resuming talks with Russia, but Moscow wouldn’t be able to do so with any of the figures on its wanted list due to domestic law.

Therein lies the likely purpose of placing them on there since Russia is a stickler for legal technicalities due to President Putin’s lawyer background no matter what the West claims. Just like the Rada passed a measure in late 2022 prohibiting Zelensky from negotiating with him, so too has the Russian Interior Ministry (almost certainly with President Putin’s tacit approval) practically just done the same with prohibiting their country’s representatives from negotiating with the Ukrainian leader and others.

If the military-strategic dynamics continue trending in Russia’s favor to the point where the West finally authorizes Ukraine to desperately resume negotiations aimed at freezing the conflict by capitulating to some of their opponent’s terms, then this could only be done via figures that aren’t on its wanted list. Should Zelensky still cling to power by that time, then he’d undermine his own self-proclaimed legal authority by having to appoint someone else, which he’d be loathe to do in any case for reasons of ego.

It also can’t be taken for granted that members of the most hawkish Western factions won’t kill him in a false-flag assassination blamed on Russia in order to rally more support behind Ukraine during that dire moment in the conflict and to foil any attempt by their factional rivals to end it with talks. What’s most important for Russia isn’t bringing Zelensky to justice by any means, but ensuring its national security interests in the ongoing conflict, albeit without deigning to negotiate with an illegitimate puppet.

Poroshenko’s inclusion on its wanted list is probably meant to signal that it won’t be duped by a Western switcheroo in the event that they seek to replace Zelensky with him as part of a “controlled opposition”-backed protest-driven regime change aimed at defusing public anger and offsetting a genuine revolution. After all, he was responsible for failing to implement the Minsk Accords that he himself agreed to, so no real diplomatic solution to the latest conflict is possible with him at the helm of the state once again.

With this in mind, Russia might be pressuring the West to introduce “fresh blood” into the Ukrainian elite or elevate largely unknown figures without the same level of blood on their hands if they’re going to stage a regime change against Zelensky, who defied their demands not to target energy infrastructure. As was earlier written, Zelensky’s false-flag assassination could sabotage this quasi-regime change process aimed at creating the “face-saving” pretext for peace, so his benefactors should be on alert.

His inclusion on Russia’s wanted list therefore isn’t meant to create the legal pretext for his secret rendition or assassination by the Kremlin, but to create one for at least a symbolic shake-up of the Ukrainian elite for facilitating peace talks, though it could be exploited to undermine that as explained. The real threat to Zelensky’s life comes from the West’s most hawkish anti-Russian factions, which aren’t below killing him if they think that it’s required for prompting a conventional NATO intervention.

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