Vladimir Putin assassination attempts: who has tried to assassinate Russian president and how did he survive?

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Western officials have questioned Ukraine’s claims of an assassination attempt against the Russian leader over two months ago

Ukraine has claimed Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt at the beginning of the war.

Officials in the country have alleged there was a plot to kill the Russian leader more than two months ago by “representatives of the Caucasus”.

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However, the West have questioned whether the assassination bid claims are accurate, adding that Putin is unlikely to surround himself with people other than his closest allies.

But what has Ukraine said about the attempt, and how did Putin survive?

Ukraine has claimed that Vladimir Putin survived a botched assassination attempt at the beginning of the war, but Western officials have disputed this. (Credit:Getty Images) Ukraine has claimed that Vladimir Putin survived a botched assassination attempt at the beginning of the war, but Western officials have disputed this. (Credit:Getty Images)
Ukraine has claimed that Vladimir Putin survived a botched assassination attempt at the beginning of the war, but Western officials have disputed this. (Credit:Getty Images) | SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

What happened during assassination attempt on Putin?

Reports suggest at least five assassination attempts against Putin have happened since he took charge of Russia 22 years ago.

Ukraine has claimed the most recent attempt happened shortly after the beginning of the war in February.

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In a television interview on 23 May, Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukrainian military intelligence, said: “This was not in the public domain. A completely failed attempt but it really did happen about two months ago.”

‘Once again, he was unsuccessful. There is no publicity about this event, but it took place.”

Who conducted assassination attempt against Putin?

In the same interview, Mr Budanov said the attack had been undertaken by “representatives of the Caucasus”.

The Caucasus is a region in eastern Europe which includes countries such as Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

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However, there is no confirmation on which specific countries were involved in the attempt, nor has there been any confirmation of any individuals involved.

What did the West say about the assassination attempt?

Despite Ukrainian officials appearing to confirm the assassination attempt, some Western officials have question the validity of this.

During a briefing, one unamned Western official said a “hugely complex operation” would be needed in order for an attempt to take place, while another said the “controlled enviroment” around Putin would make an assassination attempt extremely difficult to conduct.

They said: “Putin is operating, and has done through Covid, in an enduring basis in a smaller and smaller grouping.

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“He has fewer contacts, fewer public engagements, it’s a more controlled environment around him.”

How many assassination attempts has Putin survived?

If Mr Budanov is to be believed, the latest attempt would mark the sixth confirmed time Putin has survived an attempt on his life.

In a 2017, the Russian leader told filmaker Oliver Stone he has survived five assassination attempts during his time in office as part of ‘The Putin interviews’ documentary.

This included an attempt during a visit to a Commonwealth of Independent States summit in 2000, one during the funeral of Russian politician Anatoly Sobchak, another during a state visit to Azerbaijan.

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Other attacks included a botched explosive plot which would have targeted Putin as he travelled along a motorway near the Kremlin in 2002 and a foiled attempt by two men, who were caught by British anti-terror police and returned to Russia in 2003.

In 2012, Russian forces caught Adam Osmayev in Odessa, Ukraine on allegations that he was targeting the Russian leader. He was then paraded on state TV with multiple injures and half naked, reading an apparent confession to attempting to kill Putin.

On the broadcast, he said: “Our goal was to go to Moscow and try to kill Prime Minister Putin… Our deadline was after the Russian presidential election.”

How did Putin survive the assassination attempts?

Putin said that his personal involvement with his security team is what saved his life, a tip he had picked up from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

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In the interview, he said: ‘Yes, I talked to Castro about that and he said to me: “Do you know why I’m still alive?”

“I asked him, “Why?” [Castro said] “Because I was always the one to deal with my security personally”.

‘I do my job and the security officers do theirs and they are still performing quite successfully.”

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