Ukraine’s government has a contingency plan in place if President Volodymyr Zelensky is killed during the Russian invasion, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed on Sunday March 6.
Zelensky survived three assassination attempts by Russian-backed groups last week, the Times reported on Friday March 4.
During an interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Blinken was asked if Russian leader Vladimir Putin would face ‘consequences’ for Zelensky’s murder.
‘And are you working on a contingency plan to support a Ukrainian government without him at the helm?’ host Margaret Brennan added.
Blinken first praised Zelensky and other Kyiv officials as ‘the embodiment of this incredibly brave Ukrainian people.’
‘The Ukrainians have plans in place — that I’m not going to talk about or get into any details on — to make sure that there is what we would call “continuity of government” one way or another. And let me leave it at that,’ he answered.
Intelligence reports circulated at the beginning of Putin’s invasion that his goal was to ‘behead’ the current democratically-elected Ukrainian government. The Russian autocrat has disparaged Zelensky and his deputies as ‘Nazis’ and ‘drug addicts.’
Hours after Blinken’s confirmation, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio was forced to defend himself from criticism after sharing an image of Zelensky during a Zoom call despite being asked not to over concerns about the Ukrainian president’s security.
As the attack continued into its tenth day on Saturday, Rubio and his fellow GOP Senator Steve Daines of Montana posted photos from a live video call with Zelensky and members of Congress as it was taking place.
Ukraine’s ambassador had ‘explicitly’ asked lawmakers and their staff on the call to refrain from sharing it on social media, Democrat Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota said on Twitter after it concluded.
On Sunday, CNN State of the Union host Jake Tapper asked Rubio whether he thought it was a ‘mistake’ to share the image. Rubio brushed off the criticism, insisting there were no such rules in place when he tweeted and claiming there was ‘no risk posed’ to Zelensky.
‘Well, first of all, she asked that like 30 minutes into the call after I had already done it,’ the Florida Republican said.
‘The second is, I think she’s under the impression that no one knew that call was happening. That call had been widely reported, the — actually even the specific time had been reported,’ Rubio said.
‘There are over 300 people on it, all the call details had been emailed, so there’s nothing secure about that call.’
He added that the photo itself was ‘nondescript’ in its surroundings.
‘It looks like all the other ones you see out there publicly, so, I don’t — there’s no risk posed but you’re always going to have a couple of people that want their name in an article somewhere, mentioned in the press,’ Rubio said, seeming to allude to his Democrat colleague’s outrage.
Asked about it again on ABC’s This Week, Rubio firmly answered ‘no’ he did not believe he put Zelensky’s security at risk.
During his Saturday call with US lawmakers, Ukraine’s president urged Americans to send more weapons and to enact a no-fly zone over his nation’s borders.