Russian security services “know what they are doing”, the Kremlin responded tonight, after a top Ukrainian intelligence official said the Russian president Vladimir Putin is the top target in “death list” of Kiev.

Vadim Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service, told German newspaper Die Welt that Kiev wanted to kill Putin “because he coordinates and decides what happens” in the war. He also claimed that the Russian leader knows he is at the top of this “death list”.

“In the end, everyone will have to answer for their actions,” Skibitsky was quoted as saying. “Putin sees that we are getting closer and closer to him but he is also afraid that his own people will kill him,” he added, according to Die Welt.

Skibitsky also named other Russians as targets: Wagner mercenary founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov and military commander Sergei Surovykin – the so-called “Armageddon general” from the Russian media. He reportedly said that Putin was a difficult target because he had been “in hiding” for a long time but was now starting to make more frequent public appearances.

Asked whether the president’s security measures had been beefed up after Skibitsky’s interview, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied: “Believe me, the security services know their job and they know what they’re doing.”

Peskov commented that Skibitsky’s interview confirms that Russia had the right to launch the “special military operation” (as Moscow calls it) in Ukraine 15 months ago. “The terrorist regime talks about its terrorist ambitions. The special military operation is more than justifiable, more than necessary and must be completed by achieving its objectives,” the spokesman added.

Earlier this month the Russian presidency claimed a drone attack on the Kremlin was an attempt to assassinate Putin, which Kiev denied. Today the American newspaper New York Times writes that American intelligence services believe that this attack was orchestrated by Ukrainian spies or the military intelligence service of Ukraine.