Leaked Kremlin documents have revealed details of Moscow’s initial pre-invasion plan for Ukraine.
The documents, allegedly signed off by Vladimir Putin, reveal the Kremlin planned to carry out its take-over in just 10 days and annex it by August 2022.
Russian special services were also instructed to kill Ukrainian leaders including president Volodymyr Zelensky, according to British think tank Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI).
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The plans began with a “massive missile and airstrike campaign” against Ukrainian military targets, according to the think tank.
It added that Moscow would not target critical infrastructure such as power stations and railways because these were key to its plans to occupy the country.
According to the documents, the Kremlin would avoid targeting critical infrastructure and instead planned to take control of vital services by capturing power stations and water supplies, as well as its central bank, parliament and airfields.
The leaked files also detailed plans to seize Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and use them to shelter Russian troops.
Ukraine has stated that it believes Russia planned to use airborne units in Belarus to capture two of the power plants – Rivne and Khmelnytsky nuclear power plants.
There was reportedly even a plan to potentially blackmail other European countries with the threat of radiation pollution.
Russian higher-ups allegedly assumed Ukrainian government officials would “either flee or be captured as a result of the speed of the invasion”, RUSI said.
The sick documents also featured lists that divided some Ukrainians into four categories, including some who were added to a “kill list”.
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The four categories were: those who should be killed; those in need of suppression and intimidation; those considered neutral and who should be encouraged to collaborate; and those prepared to collaborate, RUSI explained.
The Army-linked think tank claimed only a handful of Russian officials were aware of the extent of the plans and that even deputy heads within the Russian military weren’t informed of the ploy to invade Ukraine until just days before the operation began – with military units receiving orders hours before.
While the occupation of Ukraine was expected to take 10 days, the war is still ongoing more than nine months after it was first announced that Putin had launched his full-scale invasion.