(Moscow) Russia said on Wednesday it shot down two Ukrainian drones that targeted the Kremlin in Moscow, denouncing an assassination attempt on Vladimir Putin a few days before major military celebrations.
Ukraine has claimed it had “nothing to do” with the alleged attack, the most spectacular attributed to Kyiv by Russia on its own soil since the start of the conflict in February 2022 and the first reported incursion into the heart of the Russian capital.
These accusations come against the backdrop of an increase in drone attacks and sabotage in recent days on Russian territory, as Kyiv says it is completing its preparations for a major spring offensive.
“ Last night, the Kyiv regime tried to hit the Kremlin ” – one of the most secure places in the world – said the Russian presidency in a press release.
According to her, two machines that were trying to reach the Russian seat of power were “disabled” by electronic warfare systems. Mr Putin was uninjured and there were no casualties or damage.
“We consider these actions an attempted terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the president”, denounced the Kremlin. “Russia reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it deems appropriate,” he added.
In a video broadcast by some Russian media on social networks, a small drone is seen approaching the roofs of the Kremlin before exploding. Another shows a plume of smoke rising above this location overnight.
It was not immediately possible to verify these independent source images.
“ Ukraine has nothing to do with the drone attacks on the Kremlin ”, assured Mykhaïlo Podoliak, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukrainian authorities traditionally deny the attacks attributed to them by Moscow.
While drones have already crashed in the Moscow region in recent months, this is the first time an incursion attributed to Ukraine has occurred in such a central part of the Russian capital, located some 500 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
The attempted attack made public by the Kremlin took place a few days before the celebrations of “Victory Day” – May 9 – when Russia marks with great fanfare the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Several military parades have been canceled across Russia due to security concerns. The Briansk region, bordering Ukraine, announced on Wednesday that it would give up the big festivities, after two spectacular sabotages which derailed two trains in recent days.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, however, said on Wednesday that the big military parade in Red Square in Moscow, the highlight of the show, would take place as planned, despite the attack on the Kremlin.
The mayor of the capital, Sergei Sobyanin, announced for his part that drone flights over his city would now be prohibited, except with special authorization.
Incidents involving drones have multiplied in recent months in Russia, these machines having targeted military bases or energy infrastructures.
A fuel depot thus caught fire overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday in Russia near annexed Crimea. According to the official TASS news agency, the disaster was caused by the “downfall of a drone”.
The increase in these actions comes at a time when Kyiv claims to have completed its preparations for a major spring offensive against Russian positions in Ukraine.
It is in this context that the Ukrainian authorities announced on Wednesday a 58-hour curfew in Kherson, near the front line in the south, from Friday evening to allow “police forces to be able to their work “.
The Kherson region is often cited by analysts as one of the possible theaters of a Ukrainian offensive. The regional capital, Kherson, was recaptured in November by troops from Kyiv, but has since been regularly bombarded by the Russians.
On Wednesday, two strikes on a supermarket and the train station in this city left at least four dead and several injured, according to Kyiv.
Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Finland, a new NATO member that Kyiv is seeking to join, on Wednesday for a surprise trip.
At the same time, in Brussels, the European Commission presented a financial instrument endowed with 500 million euros to strengthen the European Union’s ammunition production capacity to help Ukraine in the face of the Russian offensive.