What has he claimed?
In an incredibly frank interview, Vadym Skibitsky told Germany’s Welt newspaper on Wednesday that “we are getting closer and closer” to Putin but that he is also “afraid of being killed by his own people.”
“Many people in Russia still support this ‘special operation’ [against Ukraine], but thanks to social media and phone checks, we know that so many Russians have died now that it scares people,” he said.
Skibitsky also mentioned Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, saying: “We’re trying to kill him.
“Our priority is to eliminate the unit commander who orders his men to attack.”
Skibitsky also said that in terms of those responsible for Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, “in the end, everyone will have to answer for their actions.”
He added: “Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu planned the attack and now they cannot turn back.”
He also suggested the net could be cast even wider to target propagandists, oligarchs and civilians if they “manufacture and finance weapons for Russia.”
“We are at war and these are our enemies,” he added. “According to international conventions, this is a legitimate goal.”
Is he serious?
While there’s nothing to suggest he isn’t, due to the very nature of intelligence work there were no details of any operational plans nor of any previous attempts on the lives of those mentioned.
Vadym Skibitsky. PHOTO: Ukrinform
Has Putin or Prigozhin responded?
In a slightly weird statement on Thursday morning, Prigozhin said: "I can say that the Ukrainians and, of without question particularly the Main Intelligence Directorate, are quite all vicious people, so their decision to eliminate President Putin and me is understandable.
"As for (Russian army commander) Valery Gerasimov and (Russian Defense Minister Sergei) Shoigu, I think they (the Ukrainians) are ready for even for that. The only thing that is stopping them is for the world championship tail-chasing (Russian: международный конкурс резьбы по дереву) to be announced.
"The moment it starts, I am sure that they (Ukrainian military intelligence) will move to attack even the most holy of targets - the person who wins that competition."
Has Ukraine said anything like this before?
Ukraine’s intelligence services have been relatively open in recent weeks, ahead of Kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive.
Last week Skibitsky‘s boss, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, admitted Kyiv was behind a number of assassinations of prominent Russian propagandists.
“We’ve already successfully targeted quite a few people,” he said. “There have been well-publicized cases everyone knows about, thanks to the media coverage.”
Although Budanov did not specify exactly which individuals had been targeted, since the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, several prominent pro-Kremlin figures have been killed or wounded on Russian territory.
Earlier this month, an explosion in the Nizhny Novgorod region injured Zakhar Prilepin, a pro-Kremlin writer and one of Russia’s best-known novelists.
In April, an explosion at a cafe in Russia's second-largest city of Saint Petersburg killed prominent pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky and injured 25 others.
And in August of last year, a car carrying Daria Dugina, the daughter of Putin’s ideologue Aleksandr Dugin, was blown up in the suburbs of Moscow. She died in the attack.
Did Skibitsky say anything else of note?
He did. Speaking of Crimea, he said that partisans on the peninsula are “quite capable of striking” infrastructure critical for Russia’s war effort, not least the Crimean Bridge.
Skibitsky claimed the only reason it was still standing was because Ukraine wanted to give Russians living there the chance to escape.
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