On Wednesday, Russia claimed that Ukraine attempted to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in an overnight drone attack on the Kremlin, sparking denials from Kyiv and calls for retaliation from nationalists in Moscow.
The Kremlin’s accusation, which lacked supporting evidence, is the latest in a series of alleged incidents far from the conflict’s front lines. Ukraine has denied any involvement in the supposed incident and suggested it could be used as a pretext for a new Russian attack within Ukraine.
Three US officials informed NBC News that they had no prior knowledge of a potential drone attack on the Kremlin by Ukraine. Given Russia’s extensive air defense systems protecting the area, two of the officials expressed doubt that a drone could approach the Kremlin so closely.
If true, an attack on Moscow’s heart would expose Russian vulnerability ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive to expel Kremlin forces from occupied land.
According to a statement on its website, the Kremlin claimed that Russian military and special services disabled two attacking drones, with debris falling onto the government’s seat. While blaming Ukraine for the alleged attack, the statement confirmed no injuries.
The Kremlin views the purported attack as a premeditated terrorist act and an assassination attempt on the President, carried out before Victory Day on May 9, which commemorates the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Videos of an object exploding over the Kremlin, the building’s flaming roof, and smoke emanating from the area circulated widely on social media. Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied Ukrainian involvement and suggested that “guerrilla activities of local resistance forces” could be responsible.
Serhiy Nikiforov, Zelenskyy’s press officer, reiterated Ukraine’s focus on its own territory, stating that the country directs all available resources to liberate its lands, not to attack foreign ones.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Putin was not in the Kremlin during the alleged attack and was working at a presidential residence near Moscow.
The incident did not impact the president’s schedule.
Despite plans for the Victory Day parade in Red Square proceeding as scheduled, some military analysts questioned whether the alleged incident constituted an assassination attempt.
Two US officials expressed skepticism that a drone provided by Washington to Ukraine could have been used in the alleged attack, given the significant distance from Ukraine to the Kremlin. Both officials could not confirm whether the report was a Russian disinformation campaign, stating they were still trying to determine its veracity.
As Secretary of State Antony Blinken commented at a world press freedom event on Wednesday, any information emerging from the Kremlin should be taken “with a very large shaker of salt.”
Leaked US intelligence documents reveal that Ukrainian agents have carried out drone attacks inside Russia, contrary to US and Western desires.