- Russia has lists of political opponents to arrest or assassinate if it invades Ukraine, Foreign Policy said.
- The lists include political figures, anti-corruption local, and Belarusian and Russian dissidents.
- The US has reportedly shared intelligence about the possible targets with the Ukrainian government.
US intelligence services have obtained information that Russia is drafting lists of political opponents to possibly arrest or assassinate if it invades Ukraine, Foreign Policy reported.
Four sources familiar with US intelligence told the outlet that the lists include Ukrainian political figures, anti-corruption located, and Belarusian and Russian dissidents living in exile in Ukraine.
The report comes amid growing certainty among Western leaders than an invasion of Ukraine by Russia is imminent.
President Joe Biden said on Friday he was “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin would launch an attack into the country in the coming days.
Russia has consistently denied that it plans to attack, but has so far amassed as many as 190,000 troops along the Ukraine-Russia border.
Five Eyes — the international intelligence alliance of the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand — has also tracked Russian intelligence agencies, such as the FSB and GRU, building up “target and kill” lists, Foreign Policy reported.
The Biden administration has been surprised by how detailed the lists are, according to Foreign Policy. The lists, the publication reports, seem to target anyone who might challenge Russia’s agenda in the region.
The move would be in keeping with Russia’s previous actions. Moscow has previously tried to “force cooperation through intimidation and repression,” one US official speaking under the condition of anonymity told Foreign Policy.
“These acts, which in past Russian operations have included targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, detentions, and the use of torture, would likely target those who oppose Russian actions,” the official told the outlet.
This could include “Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, and anti-corruption locality, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons,” the US official said.
The target lists are part of Russia’s plan to replace the current Ukrainian administration with a pro-Russia government, sources familiar with the intelligence told CNN.
A recent report published by the British defense think tank the Royal United Services Institute alleged that Russian security services have been identifying Ukrainian individuals who could be trusted to run local governments in the event of a Russian invasion.
Russian forces are also identifying people hostile to Russia who might organize resistance to any invading force, the report said.
Another US official told Foreign Policy that the US has been downgrading the intelligence classification of threats to specific groups in order to share information with the Ukrainian government and regional partners.
The move is part of a wider drive by the US and UK to make unusual amounts of intelligence public in the hopes of robbing Putin of the element of surprise, The Guardian previously reported.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made similar warnings during a speech to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday in which he outlined how a Russian invasion of Ukraine might go.
Blinken said that Russia might start by launching missiles and bombs before sending tanks and soldiers into Ukraine.
“Conventional attacks are not all that Russia plans to inflict upon the people of Ukraine. We have information that indicates Russia will target specific groups of Ukrainians,” Blinken said.