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Russian forces came close to capturing Volodymyr Zelensky during first hours of invasion

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Volodymyr Zelensky has told how he was nearly captured by Russian forces in the first hours of Ukraine’s invasion.

Since Russian troops crossed into Ukraine on February 24, Mr Zelensky has gained international praise and been repeatedly compared to the wartime leader Winston Churchill for how he has handled the country’s invasion so far.

Mr Zelensky posts nightly adresses to Ukrainians via Facebook and has delivered speeches to legislators across the world in a bid to galvanise international support for Ukraine.

But, in an interview with Time magazine, it was revealed Mr Zelensky was nearly captured by Russian hitmen who were ordered to asssassinate him and his family.

The Ukrainian president was informed by the country’s military that Russian strike teams “had parachuted into Kyiv to kill or capture him and his family” during the first hours of the invasion, according to the magazine.

Mr Zelensky’s staff said Russian troops made two failed attempts to storm the presidential compound in Kyiv on February 24 while the Ukraine President sought refuge inside the walls of the compound with his wife Olena and two children, aged 17 and nine.

He also said his memories of the first few hours of the war were “fragmented” by recalled going to tell his children that the bombing had started.

Speaking from his presidential office, Mr Zelensky said: “We woke them up. It was loud. There were explosions over there.”

The presidential guard set about sealing the compound with whatever materials they could locate, blocking the gate with police barriers and plywood, in a desperate attempt to keep the enemy out.

Mr Zelensky and his family were later evacuated by US and British forces.

Despite being advised to set up an exile government in Poland, Mr Zelensky and his team insisted on staying in the country and leading from the frontline.

It was at that moment he recognised his role in the war.

“You understand that they’re watching,” he told the magazine.

“You’re a symbol. You need to act the way the head of state must act.”

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