Russia says it successfully prevented a drone strike from attacking the Kremlin overnight, as dramatic video footage shows what is claimed to be a “terrorist attack”.
“Two unmanned aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin”, so says the Russian government through the official communication channel Tass on Wednesday morning, releasing a statement alleging they had fended off an attack against the heart of the Russian state by Ukrainian drones.
Ukraine has not yet claimed the attack and Russia has not offered any hard evidence of what happened. Nevertheless, it is claimed President Volodymyr Zelesnky’s chief of staff posted “fire emojis” to his personal Telegram channel after the news broke but swiftly deleted them.
Update 1600 BST: Ukraine denies involvement
Russia was clear in its accusation that Ukraine was responsible for the overnight attack, and Ukraine was initially silent. While no official statement through state channels has yet been issued, government spokesmen have spoken through Western media outlets to not only deny involvement, but to suggest the attack may have been the work of guerillas working inside Russia.
Radio Free Europe cites Mykhaylo Podolyak, a Ukraine government advisor, who said: “The emergence of unidentified unmanned aerial vehicles at energy facilities or on Kremlin’s territory can only indicate the guerrilla activities of local resistance forces. As you know, drones can be bought at any military store.
“The loss of power control over the country by Putin’s clan is obvious. But on the other hand, Russia has repeatedly talked about its total control over the air. In a word, something is happening in [The RUssian Federation], but definitely without Ukraine’s drones over the Kremlin”.
Sergiy Nykyforov spoke to CNN to make parallel remarks, saying Wednesday: “We do not have information on so called night attacks on Kremlin… As President Zelensky has stated numerous times before, Ukraine uses all means at its disposal to free its own territory, not to attack others.”
Don’t expect the truth to emerge on this any time soon, if at all.
The original story continues below
While the exact circumstances are not yet known and what information exists about this claimed attempt on President Vladimir Putin comes through Kremlin-controlled news source, Russia said there were no casualties or “material damage”. They specifically said the President was not staying at the Kremlin last night, had not been harmed and Russia released new photographs of Putin having meetings “outside of Moscow” Wednesday morning.
Russia said: “Tonight, the Kyiv regime made an attempt to strike with unmanned aerial vehicles on the Kremlin residence of the President of the Russian Federation… two unmanned aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin. As a result of timely actions taken by the military and special services with the use of radar warfare systems, the devices were put out of action.”
Russian propaganda outlet Russia Today claimed the drones were brought down using Electronic Warfare equipment.
The assertion that air defence systems at the Kremlin were successful in fending off the attack after several videos purporting to show the strike and its aftermath began to circulate on social media, and suggest it was a very close call for the Russians, with one drone apparently being intercepted right over the roof of one government building.
Only one of those videos appears to have been semi-officially acknowledged by the Russian government and shows a column of smoke rising above the Kremlin.
JUST IN – Russia says Ukraine tried to hit Kremlin with drones overnight in an assassination attempt on Putin.pic.twitter.com/xAS0BtTDzs
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) May 3, 2023
Others including a major blast in the sky, and a building burning are also circulating but have not yet been acknowledged in the same way:
⚡️Ukrainian drone hitting the Kremlin last night pic.twitter.com/orf9i4i9lO
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) May 3, 2023
They tried to hit the Kremlin with two drones
As a result of timely actions taken by the military and special services using radar warfare systems, the devices were put out of action, – Press Service of the President of Russia pic.twitter.com/k0G52EC6L9
— Spriter (@Spriter99880) May 3, 2023
Significantly, perhaps, Russia made clear it “reserves the right to respond”, raising the question of whether the claim of a Ukrainian attempted assassination against Putin would be used as the pretext for a strike against President Zelensky in return. The Kremlin said: “We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the President of the Russian Federation, carried out on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 parade, at which the presence of foreign guests is also planned.”
The remarks come days after the Russian government acknowledged the frequency with which targets inside Russia were exploding, saying: “We are, of course, aware that the Kiev regime, which is behind a number of such attacks and terrorist acts, plans to continue this tactic… All our special services have been doing everything that is necessary to ensure security. Intensive and concerted work is underway.”
The invasion of Ukraine — which Russia euphemistically calls a “special military operation” — was continuing to “eliminate threats to our country”, said the Kremlin spokesman.
These claims of an attempted Ukrainian drone strike against President Putin come just days after another claim of an attempted attack. Russia acknowledged that a Ukrainian drone “packed with explosives” had crash-landed on the outskirts of Moscow last week, but refused to speculate on what it might have been doing there.
A report in German media later said, citing Ukrainian sources, that Kyiv intelligence had gained advanced warning of Putin doing a factory visit, and planned to try and blow him up.
Ukraine Made Failed Attempt to Blow up Vladimir Putin With Suicide Drone: Claim https://t.co/OZXgFcVMI7
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 28, 2023