Ukrainian President Zelensky reportedly in secret bunker as Russian troops advance on capital city Kyiv

It has quickly become apparent in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking beyond the Russia-aligned separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and has sent his troops toward the capital city of Kyiv to topple the U.S.-backed government there.

That would make Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a prime target for Russians, and reports indicate that the besieged leader has evacuated his office and sought safety in a bunker at an undisclosed location in the city, the Washington Examiner reported.

The news would seemingly contradict unconfirmed rumors initially circulating on social media, likely the result of Russian propaganda, suggesting that Zelensky had fled the capital and potentially even the country itself as Russian forces seek to encircle Kyiv.

Zelensky acknowledges the Russian threat to his life, says “I am staying” in Kyiv

It was CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance, on location in Kyiv, who appeared to confirm that Zelensky remained in the capital, albeit in a secret bunker, during a live spot with network host Erin Burnett, who was broadcasting her show from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Before his mention of the secret bunker, though, Chance first made note of some stunning allegations put forward by Zelensky in a video speech Thursday night.

“According to our information, the enemy marked me as target No. 1. My family, as target No. 2,” Zelensky said. “They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state. We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv.”

The Ukrainian president then added, “I am staying in the government quarter together with others.”

In the live report from Chance, he cited Ukrainian intelligence officials as saying Russia planned to “Encircle Ukrainian capital Kyiv, enter into it and decapitate the government, and replace it with a pro-Moscow puppet regime.”

As for President Zelensky, the reporter said, “He’s in a bunker, we understand at the moment, in a secret location. Though he says he’s in the sort of central part of Kyiv still.”

White House confirms Zelensky still in the capital city

The issue of Zelensky’s whereabouts was raised in Friday’s press briefing with White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who acknowledged that, according to U.S. intelligence assessments of the situation, “that Kyiv falling, that attempts to overturn the leadership of Ukraine is very much in the aspirations of President Putin.”

“Obviously, going after the head of state would be a significant, horrific act by Russian leadership,” she continued. “But we remain in contact, as you all have seen from the readout we provided, with President Zelenskyy. He’s made clear that he’s still in Ukraine, proudly and courageously standing up in the face of the Russian attack.”

Later in the briefing, asked specifically if the administration believed Zelensky would remain “safe” staying in Kyiv, Psaki replied, “We are in close touch with him. While I’m not going to give you updates on his security state, we — certainly, the President just spoke with him earlier today, and he continues to be the President of Ukraine.

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