US officials quoted in The Washington Post and The New York Times over the weekend have revealed that Ukraine's leadership and its Western backers have "contingency plans" in place to establish a continuing government in exile should Russian forces overrun the country.
The reports reveal that "a flurry of planning" at the State Department has been happening since the Russian invasion kicked off a week-and-a-half ago. "We’re doing contingency planning now for every possibility," a Biden admin official was quoted in Washington Post as saying, which also named Poland as the likely location for a Ukrainian government in exile.
Meanwhile, the same deep state source that uses both the WaPo and the NYT, advised the latter that western allies are discussing how to secure Ukraine's line of succession "if President Volodymyr Zelensky is captured or killed."
Allied nations are discussing how to secure Ukraine's line of succession if President Volodymyr Zelensky is captured or killed. The concerns are primarily about ensuring an independent government of some form, even if Russia installs puppet leadership. https://t.co/BvafNkveep— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 5, 2022
President Zelensky, who has called himself the Kremlin's "No.1" target, is further being recognized in Washington as the "the pivotal force" capable of rallying an armed resistance of local Ukrainians from across the Polish border.
"Should the United States and its allies choose to back an insurgency, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would be the pivotal force, officials said, maintaining morale and rallying Ukrainians living under Russian occupation to resist their powerful and well-equipped foe," WaPo writes based on US officials.
Zelensky's advisers also described their own secretive plans are in place for his security team to whisk him away to the border and outside the country in the event of a rapid Russian takeover of all government buildings, but one was cited as saying, "So far, he has refused to go."
European leaders too are said to be working behind the scenes on supporting Ukraine's government even if the capital and major cities fall, as the report details:
Nevertheless, European diplomats, like their American counterparts, are starting to prepare for how to support the Ukrainian government if Kyiv falls or the country is entirely occupied by Russia. A United Nations resolution this past week condemning the invasion, which drew 141 votes, is one element of "laying the groundwork" to recognize Zelensky’s administration as Ukraine’s legitimate government and to keep it afloat even if it no longer controls territory, said a senior European diplomat.
Such "planning" on the US side appears to already be shifting toward sustaining covert support to a Ukrainian insurgency fighting any potential resulting Russian occupation of the country. It's expected that Russia would ultimately seek to install a "puppet" government in Kiev, according to NY Times.
"During an official visit, a Ukrainian special operations commander told Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers that they were shifting training and planning to focus on maintaining an armed opposition, relying on insurgent-like tactics," the report says.
Further, on Friday Robert O’Brien - the former national security adviser to Donald Trump - briefed conservative lawmakers are what it would take to support a Zelensky government in exile.
"We should recognize them as a government in exile, in Warsaw or in London, and we ought to refer to Ukraine as occupied Ukraine," O’Brien was cited in NBC as saying.
18 year old Ukrainian volunteers off to war in Kyiv. Three days training and they will be on the front line. pic.twitter.com/xWudDwhpXS— Jeremy Bowen (@BowenBBC) March 4, 2022
And separately, Rep. Jason Crow (D) of Colorado - who is on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees - posed some of the difficulties, but which all depends largely on how far the Russian invasion force are able to go in terms of taking Ukrainian territory. "One of the challenges that we’re going to face is where is going to be the seat of Ukrainian government, and is that going to have to relocate to Lviv or someplace west of the Dnieper River? Or is that going to have to relocate to some place outside of Ukraine?" he said according to NBC.