Russia has lists of prominent Ukrainian figures to arrest or kill should Moscow invade, U.S. officials say

The U.S. reportedly has intelligence that, in the event of a Russian-led invasion of Ukraine, Moscow may "target prominent political opponents, anti-corruption activists, and Belarusian and Russian dissidents living in exile," Foreign Policy reports. Though no such invasion has yet occured, Western officials as well as President Biden have cautioned it could go down any day now.

According to four people familiar with the intelligence in question, "Russia has drafted lists of Ukrainian political figures and other prominent individuals to be targeted for either arrest or assassination in the event of a Russian assault on Ukraine," Foreign Policy writes.

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"These acts, which in past Russian operations have included targeted killings, kidnappings/forced disappearances, detentions, and the use of torture, would likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons," one official said.

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The White House is also reportedly shocked at how "formalized" the lists are, Foreign Policy notes. Those included on the lists seem to essentially be "anyone who could challenge the Russian agenda."

One Belarusian official said that though his team had advised Belarusians living in Ukraine on how to handle a Russian attack, "they had not been informed of a specific threat to Belarusian dissidents," writes Foreign Policy.

Biden will speak on the ongoing crisis at the Russia-Ukraine border at 4 p.m. on Friday.

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Brigid Kennedy

Brigid is a staff writer at The Week and a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her passions include improv comedy, David Fincher films, and breakfast food. She lives in New York.