According to Moscow, Ukraine attempted the assassination of President Vladimir Putin’s life by launching a drone attack on the Kremlin. Officials say that two drones carried out an assassination attempt at the President’s residence but were stopped by Russian defensive systems. Russian officials say the attempted attack was paramount to terrorism, directly intended to destabilize Russia on the eve of its May 9th Victory Day parade, and threatened swift retribution for the attack. U.S. officials say it is too early to make sense of the situation but warned that the attempt on Putin’s life, if proven to be instigated by Ukranian saboteurs, could escalate the special military operation in Ukraine and lead to Putin ordering a wave of attacks on Kyiv and Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine has denied any responsibility, but this would not be the first time a Ukrainian agent carried out an attack on Russian soil. With the situation on the front lines escalating, tensions are sure to boil over, and it’s not far-fetched for Ukraine to attempt to end the war by striking at Russia’s throat.
By Timothy H.J. Nerozzi; May 3, 2023
Russian government officials are claiming Ukrainian forces attempted to kill President Vladimir Putin with a failed drone attack.
Officials say two drones were used in the “assassination attempt” at the president’s residence within the Kremlin compound, but were disabled by Russian defense systems.
No injuries or damage to the residence was reported. Putin was seen in video and photos released Wednesday meeting with a regional governor outside Moscow.
The Kremlin called the incident a “terrorist action” and threatened retaliation against Ukraine in reports from state media outlet RIA.
“The Kremlin has assessed these actions as a planned terrorist act and an assassination attempt on the president on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 Parade,” RIA said.
Unconfirmed videos have begun circulating online appearing to show a drone being shot down over the Kremlin, and smoke rising in Moscow.
“We are looking into the report but aren’t able to validate its authenticity at this time,” a U.S. official told Fox News. The U.S. did not have any advance knowledge or indication of the purported incident, Fox News has learned.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday he could not “validate” the reports, and that “we simply don’t know.”
“I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt,” Blinken said at a World Press Freedom forum with The Washington Post. “So let’s see. We’ll see what the facts are.”
“More generally, as I’ve said, and as we’ve said, when it comes to Ukraine, which is under daily assault, and not just it’s incredibly courageous military forces, but its citizens, its men, women and children being assaulted on a daily basis by this Russian aggression, being bombed out of their homes, their apartments, their streets, children killed, families torn apart,” he said. “We leave it to Ukraine to decide how it’s going to defend itself and how it’s going to try to get back the territory. It’s been seized from illegally by Russia over the past 14 months and going back to 2014.”
Office of the President of Ukraine advisor Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed the drone incident as a false flag meant to justify retaliation.
“Russia is clearly preparing a large-scale terrorist attack. That’s why it first detains a large allegedly subversive group in Crimea. And then it demonstrates ‘drones over the Kremlin,'” Podolyak wrote on social media.
“First of all, Ukraine wages an exclusively defensive war and does not attack targets on the territory of the Russian Federation. What for? This does not solve any military issue. But it gives RF grounds to justify its attacks on civilians…” he continued. “Secondly, we are watching with interest the growing number of mishaps and incidents that are taking place in different parts of RF. The emergence of unidentified unmanned aerial vehicles at energy facilities or on Kremlin’s territory can only indicate the guerilla activities of local resistance forces.”
Ukrainian presidential spokesperson Serhii Nykyforov similarly denied Ukrainian involvement in the alleged drone attack.
“It’s too early to tell who is behind the purported drone attack and whether the attempted attack actually did happen. If Ukraine did do it, it would be viewed by Russia as massive escalation, allowing Putin to obliterate Kyiv, including Zelenskyy’s residence,” former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler told Fox News Digital.
She continued, “The way the article is written has signs of Russian disinformation. Versions of this article are all across Russian media, which indicates to me that the Kremlin has approved publishing it. If it is a Russian “active measure”, the goal would be provocation, to provoke, laying the groundwork and the pretext for a “retaliation” which the article mentioned specifically.”
Koffler warned against rushing to conclusions, saying there is also a small chance of an unknown third party seeking to escalate the conflict.