US and allies discuss Ukraine's line of succession in event Zelenskyy is captured or killed: Report

US and allies discuss Ukraine's line of succession in event Zelenskyy is captured or killed: Report

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The United States and allied nations are reportedly discussing the line of succession for Ukraine government leadership in the event President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is captured or killed. 

The Ukrainian Constitution outlines that the speaker of parliament succeeds the president if anything should happen to them in office, the New York Times reported. Ruslan Stefanchuk currently serves as speaker and has been photographed with Zelenskyy and attended key virtual meetings with European leaders since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The succession line for president beyond Stefanchuk, however, is unclear under the constitution. The country’s parliament may need to take additional steps to validate succession measures that extend beyond just top leaders, The Hill reported last month. 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signs application for the membership of Ukraine in the European Union on Monday Feb 28, 2022 in this photo released by Parliament of Ukraine. Zelenskyy has demanded immediate acceptance of EU membership for the second largest country in Europe (in terms of size). Witnessing the historic moment is Ruslan Stefanchuk (left), the Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal. (Ukraine Presidential Office/EYEPRESS)
(Reuters )

Ukrainian officials have meanwhile said they are focused on winning the battles against Russia instead of working on the line of succession. 

U.S., English and European Union officials have stated they won’t recognize a puppet government set up by Russia if Kyiv falls, and having a firm succession plan that installs a legal leader would make it easier for allies to undermine a Russian-controlled government in the country, the New York Times reported. 

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    A Ukrainian serviceman walks as fire and smoke rise over a building following shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Russia has launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

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    A building burns after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Russia has launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

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    Fire continues to burn in a sports complex across the street from the Kyiv TV Tower on March 02, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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    Smoke rising after shelling on the outskirts of the city is pictured from central Kyiv, Ukraine February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze (REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze)

In a bid to protect Ukraine’s independence, U.S. officials have reportedly urged Ukrainians to not allow senior officials to remain in the same place for long periods of time and to move to locations outside the nation’s capital, the New York Times reported, citing a person briefed on the conversations.

The U.S. and allied nations would also like to see Ukrainian officials establish a location for leadership outside of Kyiv, according to multiple officials. A presidential retreat in the Carpathian Mountains has been floated as an option, but Ukranian officials have not said whether the location has bomb shelters and other safety measures. 

In this photo, Feb. 27, 2022, taken from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine.  Russian state media is spreading false claims that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has fled Kyiv in what experts say is an effort to discourage Ukrainians and erode support for Ukraine around the globe.  (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

Zelenskyy has meanwhile remained in Kyiv despite reports he was offered foreign assistance to be evacuated from the city and even that he fled. 

“Every two days information comes out that I have fled somewhere — fled from Ukraine, from Kyiv, from my office. As you can see, I am here in my place, Andriy Borisovich (Yermak) is here. Nobody has fled anywhere. Here, we are working,” Zelenskyy said Saturday. 

The Ukrainian president has already avoided one assassination plot against him, according to a Ukrainian security and defense chief on Tuesday. A group of Chechen special forces was sent to “eliminate our president” but was “destroyed directly,” according to a Telegram post published by Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications.

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