October 6, 2022

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The Russians are one step away from capturing him – Corriere.it

from Andrea Marinelli and Guido Olympio

The Ukrainian president rebuilds the first day of the invasion. It was in those hours that the story of the conflict was settled: the Ukrainian government did not flee, defending its territory thanks to Western supplies, while Russian plans for a swift invasion of the country were shattered.

On February 24, in the early hours of the invasion, Russian soldiers approached the arrest of Volodymyr Zelensky and his family. Ukraine’s president himself relives those exciting moments – even if the memories are fragmented, he warns, a disjointed array of sounds and images – in a lengthy interview with the American magazine time, who followed him for a week with his closest aides. Just two days ago – like I have confirmed to me courier Estonian President Alar Karis, who visited Kyiv on February 22 – Zelensky still does not believe in a large-scale invasion by the Russians: Despite Washington’s warnings, he thought Putin’s army would focus mostly on the disputed areas of the Donbass.

Instead of that morning, before dawn, Ukrainian President and his wife Olena Zelenska rushed to their children – between the ages of 17 and 9 – to warn them that the war has begun and that they have to flee. We woke them up, Zelensky recalls. Explosions were heard. At the same time, the Ukrainian military informed the president that Russian elite forces were parachuted into Kyiv to capture him and his family.

Before that night, we had only seen such things in moviessaid Andrei Yermak, head of the presidential staff, too – like Zelensky, who was known when they worked in the television network. Inter, and many of his collaborators – from the entertainment industry. As the Ukrainian forces tried to repel the Russian attack on the capital, The presidential guards in Kyiv were trying to secure the government complex on Bankova StreetHe clogs the back gate with police barriers, sheets of plywood, and whatever they can find. Meanwhile, all the boss’s allies have arrived at the compound, some of them even brought their families: Among them was also Ruslan Stevanchuk, the speaker of parliament who should have succeeded Zelensky if he had been killed, but who, in violation of security protocol, appeared in the presidential palace and then participated in the vote imposed by the Council of martial law in Ukraine.

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In the late afternoon, after Zelensky signed the decree, The gun battles started around the government district. The Presidential Guard turned off all the lights inside the presidential compound, and provided bulletproof vests to all present and They brought assault rifles to Zelensky and dozens of his lieutenants: But most of them didn’t even know how to hold them. He said it looked like a crazy house, there were machine guns for everyone time Presidential advisor Oleksiy Aristovich, who was a veteran of the Military Intelligence Service, was one of the few who knew how to use it. Meanwhile, the battle outside was getting closer and closer The Russians tried to storm the presidential palace, and they blocked it twice: With Zelensky – as he himself asserts to Simon Schuster time – There was still his wife and two children.

It was at that moment that The United States and Great Britain offered to evacuate the Presidentpossibly to set up a government-in-exile in eastern Poland, but the proposal – which came through a safe line with Washington – was not even considered. I need ammo, not an elevator, Zelensky is said to have responded, even if these words have not been confirmed by anyone. whether he said it or not, At that juncture, the history of the conflict was decided anyway: The Ukrainian government did not flee, remaining to defend its territory thanks to Western supplies, while Russian plans for a quick invasion of the country were shattered. He says: We thought he was brave time An American official is aware of the facts, but he is also fraught with danger.

Zelensky’s bodyguards thought the same thing, says US magazine Invite him to leave the presidential palace immediately. It was very exposed, and we didn’t even have concrete barriers to block the road, Counselor Aristovich recalls. The buildings of the presidential complex are actually located in a densely populated area of ​​Kyiv, Surrounded by civilian buildings that could be used by Russian snipersClose enough to hit the windows with a grenade across the street. Out of town, however, There was a hideout waiting for him And that he could protect him even during a long siege: Zelensky, again, refused to be taken.

in the previous hours, At Hostomel Airport, 35 km from the Presidential Complex on Bankova StreetMeanwhile, the Airborne Forces that were to behead the Ukrainian government landed. Waiting for them they found for the Ukrainians: As we have said previously, the CIA had informed the Ukrainians of the Russian plans, and provided accurate information about the directions of the attack. Thanks to internal sources and satellite images, in fact, They knew in Washington that the army would try to occupy the airport in order to build a bridge And encourage the flow of reinforcements by planes. Perhaps the opening of the breach had to add to the movements of the fifth column, composed of collaborators, which should have supported the impeachment of the chief.

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The resistance was ready, and the battle was bloody And the Russians – falling into the trap – suffered the first heavy losses in the elite units. According to the Ukrainians, The envoy said in those days subordinate courier In Kyiv Lorenzo Cremonese, Three Ilyushin II-76 transport aircraft were reportedly shot down before approaching the Hostomel landing area., where one of the most decisive battles of the war was fought: each plane had about 150 men on board and within a few seconds Putin had lost nearly 500 of his best fighters. However, some observers have trimmed these losses e Reduce (possibly) the destructive charge to just one. In the same hours, an armored column that was trying to get to the airfield from Chernobyl was to be eliminated: part of this detail, collected on the field, goes back In accounts given by CIA officials to American journalists.

After the American director refuses and moves to a hideout outside the city, in the meantime, ZElensky has already become a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance: A chief who is not particularly popular in peacetime, within 24 hours becomes the leader who will follow him in war. the next night, While the fighting was still on the street, the Ukrainian leader left the famous video recording complex In the center of Kyiv, surrounded by his assistants. ‘We’re all here,’ he said, pleading with his officials present, all wearing the army shirts and jackets that would become their war uniform. Let’s defend our independence, our country.

In those first forty-eight hours of the war, The comedian found the communicator with what I managed to dictate the line for over two months: Ukrainian propaganda has always been one step ahead of Russian propaganda, with Kyiv, which is pounding hard, is constantly asking for help from the West and prevent the rest of the world from forgetting the conflict. I show you that you understand that they are watching you time. You are a symbol and you have to do what the head of state has to do.

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at that point, As told by Francesco Verderrami On the courierAnd A triple defensive belt is built around Zelensky. The first is his men who take great care of the food, water, medicine, and linens and sheets the president uses to keep him from poisoning. The second and third is an Anglo-American co-productionAs explained by intelligence sources: one physicist on Earth at a safe distance, and another at a distance. The security apparatus uses satellites and off-the-shelf electronic devices to hide communications deemed hostile, while the rest of the information is contributed by European agencies.

The CIA itself described the cooperation with the Kyiv intelligence as revolutionaryexchanging information in some general respects as well, who has written a lot But it is enriched with new details every day. a Long article published in recent daysWho I am NBC Actually confirmed it US intelligence contributes to Zelensky’s securitysuggesting how to protect her movements, trying to block her location, and possibly using electronic devices to prevent her conversations from being intercepted and tracking her movements.

Zelensky was considered by the Allies to be in great dangerAnd Verderami always wroteAlthough some of the solutions to the attack are considered difficult, such as bombing its bunker: the Russians are far from Kyiv and the potential air mission would be without surprise. Similarly, the launch of missiles will be intercepted in time by satellites: However these are not perfect mechanics, you should not bet on full armor. Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini commented, if Putin wanted to reduce NATO in the war, he had more. If she is dependent on a divided Europe, she is putting pressure on her. If he thought of eliminating Zelensky, he turned him into a hero.

Apr 29, 2022 (change on Apr 29, 2022 | 13:27)