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Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president now serving as deputy chairman of the country's Security Council, gives a speech in Volgograd on March 12, 2024. The slogan reads: "Together! For Russia! For the president!". (Yekaterina Shtukina/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) 
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Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, told the state-run TASS media outlet on May 20 that President Volodymyr Zelensky is a "legitimate military target."

Medvedev, who previously served as Russia's president from 2008 to 2012, has regularly used bellicose language in an attempt to intimidate the West and Ukraine.

In February, Medvedev threatened that Russia would use nuclear weapons against the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Ukraine if Moscow lost control of all of the territory of Ukraine it currently occupies.

"(Zelensky) already heads a political regime hostile to Russia, which is waging war on us," Medvedev said.

"And the leaders of countries waging war are always considered a legitimate military target."

Medvedev had previously portrayed himself as a liberal but has become one of Russia's most aggressive pro-war hawks since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in 2022. He has increasingly played the role formerly filled by the late politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, famous for his flamboyant and aggressive rhetoric.

Zelensky reportedly avoided several assassination attempts at the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) also said earlier in May 2024 that it had uncovered a network of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) agents who were planning to assassinate Zelensky and other high-ranking officials in Ukraine.

ISW: Medvedev’s rhetoric echoes Stalin
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said in an interview with Russian media on Feb. 22 that Ukrainian citizens in occupied Ukraine who attempt sabotage against Russia should be “exposed and punished, sent to Siberia ... for re-education in forced labor camps.”
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