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Remember Dzhokhar Dudaev? He led the Chechens during their first uprising against Russia in die 90s and was assassinated by Russia in 1996 who used a rocket to kill him in the streets of Grozny.

Currently, Russia is fighting its democratic neighbor Ukraine in a bloody and expensive war it seems incapable to win. One of the strengths of Ukraine is undoubtedly their charismatic leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy who succeeded in uniting not only the Ukrainians against the aggressor, but also almost all of the decision makers of the Western World.

My question is - Why did Russia not assassinate Zelenskyy using a rocket? They don't even have to establish a no fly zone, Russia is demonstrating each and every day of the war that they are able to use long range rockets to hit targets all over Ukraine, sometimes very precisely even. Even more interestingly - Zelenskyy himself has been using social media and TV to show each and every day that he is alive and working actively, often doing that outside in the streets of Ukraines capital Kyiv. In many cases it is quite easy to find out to which places he goes often just by looking at his self-published footage.

To be clear - I do not hope that this happens, quite the opposite, I fear that this might happen and thus wonder why Russia has not done that yet and why Zelenskyy is giving away his positions so often and openly.

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  • One can assume that the option has been discussed, but no one outside Putin's circle is going to know the real reasons. Besides, assassinating political leaders tends to turn them into heroes/martyrs for people to rally around.
    – Bobson
    Apr 25 at 21:25
  • This might be more a military question than a politics question. I'm sure Russia is trying to kill Zelenskyy but did not have the means yet. Maybe it's not that simple. But then I'm not an expert in military capabilities.
    – Trilarion
    Apr 25 at 21:26
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    I know this is a military stack exchange question but there is no military stack exchange.
    – Orsinus
    Apr 25 at 21:34
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    I don´t think this question can be answered with facts. So this is really a speculation then, Zelenski has worked in Russia some time, so he might still have some conections there and this conections helping him to survive.
    – convert
    Apr 25 at 22:58
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    From what Russia has said it sounds like they're holding back somewhat. E.g. in reuters.com/world/uk/…, Russia threatens a "proportional response" if Ukraine attacks targets in Russia. Something similar could explain why Russia isn't specifically targeting Zelenskyy - they are at the moment not waging total war.
    – Allure
    Apr 26 at 15:28

2 Answers 2

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Because they can't. Zelensky spends most of his time in a bunker, presumably ex-Soviet, so proof against any missile attack short of a nuke (and possibly even that). He does venture above ground from time to time, but briefly and unpredictably, specifically so that he can't be targeted.

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    adding to this is that, well according to the information that has been doing the rounds (and keep in mind that Ukraine will manipulate info to its benefit even if they are the good guys), Zelensky has been targetted by Wagner assassin squads. The circumstances of that report are weird though. Apr 25 at 21:40
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    There's no proof in your link for your assertion of where he spends most of his time. The word bunker isn't even in the article.
    – Fizz
    Apr 27 at 23:15
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No one knows for sure, but there are a few reasons that may be relevant:

  • It does not solve any immediate military objectives for Russia. It would surely cause stakes to rise, but that's it. This is probably the same reason why there are no attempts to assassinate Putin, btw.
  • Russia may eventually want to sign a peace treaty with Ukraine. After all, wars are fought to have a better peace. If Ukraine does not have any legal, alive leadership at this point this becomes complicated.
  • At this point, Russia avoids targeting civilian objects - a president is a civilian target, too. There seems to be a change in this - the recent campaign of bombing fuel refineries and railway stations shows that dual-use objects are now targeted. So it is conceivable that this reason will become invalid in the future. Why Russia employs this strategy is another question.

But the real answer is, no one knows for sure.

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    "It does not solve any immediate military objectives for Russia." Zelenskyy may formally be the highest commander of the Ukrainian army. And his public transmissions to the whole world surely has not only increased the will to fight for Ukrainians but may also be responsible for many of the weaponry that is delivered to Ukraine. I could imagine that there would be strategic value in killing him and that he would also be a valid target. The same way that killing Putin would probably a worthwhile goal for Ukrainians.
    – Trilarion
    Apr 25 at 21:31
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    Killing president of a country may also trigger a lot of weapon deliveries to it. It may also by itself increase the will of Ukrainian army to resist. Martyrs are a thing.
    – alamar
    Apr 25 at 21:33
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    At this point, Russia avoids targeting civilian objects That's... an odd statement to be making. Not gonna downvote, each is entitled to their opinion, but, wow, Mariupol much? Apr 25 at 21:43
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I guess I should've made myself clearer - it looks like Russia is not going to deliberately bomb a purely civilian target unless it thinks it has Ukrainian army inside (hence, no longer civilian). Russia is still absolutely going to capture towns and cities, and that involves a lot of collateral damage.
    – alamar
    Apr 25 at 22:02
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    @wrod any independent entity to verify any of your claims? For obvious reasons, sources from parties of the war (either Russia or Ukraine) are not independent.
    – uberhaxed
    Apr 26 at 19:07

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