In the early hours of Wednesday, the Russian authorities accused Ukraine of attempting to attack the Kremlin with two drones in an effort to assassinate President Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainian government has denied any involvement in the alleged attack.
The Kremlin labeled the alleged attack attempt as a “terrorist act” and stated that Russian military and security forces “disabled” the drones before they could strike. Debris from the unmanned aerial vehicles fell on the grounds of the seat of Russia’s government but did not cause any damage. No casualties were reported.
A statement on the Kremlin’s website said that the drones were disabled but did not elaborate on how this was achieved. The statement also did not explain what caused the drones to break up. According to the statement, no casualties were reported.
A video was published overnight on a local Moscow news Telegram channel, which appeared to have been shot across the river from the Kremlin. The footage showed what looked like smoke rising over the Kremlin. According to the text accompanying the video, residents of a nearby apartment building reported hearing bangs and seeing smoke at around 2:30 a.m. local time (7:30 p.m. Eastern). However, it was impossible to independently verify the posted footage.
The Ukrainian presidential advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, argued that it would not make sense to target the Kremlin during Russia’s war on his country. “We do not attack the Kremlin because, first of all, it does not solve any military problems. Absolutely. And this is extremely disadvantageous from the point of view of preparing our offensive measures,” Podolyak said. “And most importantly, it would allow Russia to justify massive strikes on Ukrainian cities, on the civilian population, on infrastructure facilities. Why do we need this?” he added.
The Kremlin did not present any evidence to back up its account, including the allegation of an assassination attempt as Russia prepares to observe its annual Victory Day on Tuesday. “We consider these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the president of Russia, carried out on the eve of the Victory Day, the parade on May 9, where foreign dignitaries are expected,” the Kremlin’s statement read.
Russia retains the right to respond “when and where it sees fit,” the statement said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that Putin was not in the Kremlin at the time and worked Wednesday from his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. The Kremlin added that Putin was safe and his schedule was unchanged. Peskov said the Victory Day parade would take place as scheduled.
Shortly before the news about the alleged attack broke, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin issued a ban on using drones in the Russian capital, with an exception for drones launched by authorities. Sobyanin did not cite a reason for the ban, saying only that it would prevent “illegal use of drones that can hinder the work of law enforcement.”
A lawmaker who represents Crimea in Moscow, Mikhail Sheremet, told Russian state media that the Kremlin should order a missile strike on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s residence in Kyiv in retaliation for Wednesday’s alleged incident.
The Ukrainian government denied any involvement in the alleged attack and expressed concern over Russia’s accusations. The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, called the accusations “another episode in the ongoing Russian disinformation campaign against Ukraine.”
Russia and Ukraine have been in a conflict since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. The conflict has since escalated into a wider conflict in eastern Ukraine that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.