The Kremlin has reportedly sent more than 400 paid mercenaries into Kyiv with the mission to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to The Times of London, the Wagner Group, a Russian private military organization accused of operating covertly with the Russian government, flew in mercenaries from Africa to Kyiv around five weeks ago.
According to the newspaper, their mission was to decapitate Zelenskyy's government and lay the groundwork for Moscow to seize power in exchange for large financial rewards.
Ukrainian authorities first learned of the Russian mercenaries on Saturday, according to The Times. A curfew was imposed in Kyiv hours later, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., for at least the next 36 hours, "for more effective defense of the capital and the protection of its citizens."
"All civilians who will be on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy's sabotage and reconnaissance groups," Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko tweeted on Saturday. "Please treat the situation with understanding and do not go outside."
In December, the European Union sanctioned the Russia-backed Wagner Group and its associates for serious human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions and killings, as well as destabilizing activities in countries such as Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, and Ukraine's Donbas region, in a move backed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.