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Ukraine’s security service said Monday it had detained a woman from the country’s Mykolaiv region, accusing her of trying to gather intelligence for Russia on the movements of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The accused informant had “tried to establish the time and range of locations” involved in a visit Mr. Zelensky would be making to the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine, the agency said in a statement.

The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the S.B.U., also accused the woman of working to locate Ukrainian ammunition store points and electronic warfare systems in the area, saying it had intelligence that showed Russia sought the information in order to plan a “massive airstrike” in Mykolaiv. It did not explicitly specify whether Mr. Zelensky was the intended target.

“Officers detained the woman red-handed in her attempt to pass intelligence to the Russians,” the statement added, without providing further details.

The accusations could not be independently verified, and there was no immediate comment from the Kremlin or Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

The agency did not specify the dates of Mr. Zelensky’s visit but said the agency had detected the woman’s efforts and employed additional security measures ahead of time.

The Ukrainian leader has made at least two trips to the Mykolaiv region in the past two months. He traveled to the area in June to assess the damage from flooding after the breach of the Kakhovka Dam and again last month, when he visited hospitals and met with doctors in the city of Ochakiv.

In its statement on Monday, the agency did not name the woman or say when she had been detained, saying only that she was a resident of the small, historic port city of Ochakiv who had previously worked as a saleswoman in a Ukrainian military store. She has been placed in custody and could face up to 12 years in prison, it added.

Even before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine 18 months ago, the United States and Britain had warned about Moscow’s desire to push Mr. Zelensky from power.

When Russian forces invaded, in late February 2022, Mr. Zelensky was believed to be the “No. 1 target” in their assault on the capital, Kyiv. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Mr. Zelensky, said that March that there had been “more than a dozen attempts” to kill the Ukrainian president.

Mr. Zelensky has been asked many times about how it feels to be the target of so many assassination attempts.

“It becomes repetitive — you remember that film, ‘Groundhog Day’?” he joked in an interview with Axios in May 2022, adding: “I wake up in the morning and it’s still the same.”

While Mr. Zelensky did not comment directly Monday on the news from the Security Service, he said in a statement that in meetings he had been briefed by the agency’s chief about “the struggle against traitors” in Ukraine.

The country has been waging a war against spies and collaborators who give help to Russian forces while its soldiers simultaneously confront them on the battlefield. Since the invasion, fears have persisted that Russian sympathizers would share the locations of sensitive Ukrainian targets. Mr. Zelensky has taken an aggressive approach on going after potential collaborators.

Last July, he dismissed two senior law enforcement officials, saying they had not been nearly aggressive enough in weeding out traitors.

Marc Santora contributed reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine, and Nataliia Novosolova from Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

Source : Nytimes