Russia accused Ukraine of attempting to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin after reporting that two drones crashed into the Kremlin on Wednesday.
Videos circulating on social media appear to show a drone exploding and smoke rising over the roof of the Kremlin. Russia said in a statement posted to the Kremlin’s website that two drones were intercepted and shot down by Russian security forces and that the impacts caused no material damage to the Kremlin itself.
KREMLIN DRONE ATTACK
– Russia says two Ukrainian drones attacked Kremlin overnight
– Drones downed with no victims or material damage to the Kremlin
– Moscow says it was a terrorist attack and attempt on Putin's life
– Russia says it reserves right to respond when and how it… pic.twitter.com/loZA6c3Fvd
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) May 3, 2023
“We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the president, carried out on the eve of Victory Day,” the statement said, according to NBC News. Victory Day is a celebration on May 9 commemorating Nazi Germany’s surrender in World War II.
“The Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it sees fit,” the Kremlin said.
Serhii Nikiforov, a spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, denied Russia’s allegations.
“We have no information about the so-called overnight attacks on the Kremlin, but as President Zelensky has repeatedly stated, Ukraine is directing all available forces and means to liberate its own territories, not to attack others,” said Nikiforov, according to The Kyiv Independent.
In the immediate aftermath of the news of the alleged drone attack, Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, posted onto his Telegram channel three fire emojis without any further explanation. He deleted the post shortly after, according to NBC News.
The Kremlin said nobody was injured by the drone crash. Putin was away from the Kremlin at the time, the Kremlin said.
If the attack was coordinated by Ukraine, it would represent a marked escalation in Ukraine’s attempts to pressure Putin. The drone strike follows a string of attacks in Russian territory, such as a train derailments and other drone strikes, most of which have gone unaddressed by the Ukrainian government.
The incident comes ahead of an expected Ukraine counter-offensive to try and drive Russia out of Ukraine’s eastern regions.
Some experts, such as Le Beck head of intelligence Michael Horowitz, questioned whether the incident at the Kremlin could be seen as an assassination attempt.
“To be clear, this really doesn’t look anything like an assassination attempt,” he said on Twitter. “This looks like #Ukraine (assuming it was Ukraine) is trying to bring the war home to #Russia, by hitting symbolic targets.”
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow defense think tank Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said that the drones that crashed into the Kremlin could have been purchased commercially and outfitted with explosives. The drones were probably launched from near Moscow by a small group, according to the Financial Times.