Russia Says It Foiled Kremlin Drone Attack Aimed At Putin

(Bloomberg) — Russia said it averted an attack by a pair of drones on President Vladimir Putin’s residence in the Kremlin in Moscow Tuesday night, blaming the attempt on Ukraine without providing evidence.

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In Kyiv, presidential spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov dismissed the allegations, saying “we have no information about the so-called night attacks on the Kremlin.” He called the Kremlin’s claim “an attempt to escalate the situation before May 9,” referring to the World War II Victory Day holiday that Russia celebrates with a Red Square military parade.

Putin was not in the Kremlin at the time of the attack, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said, according to RIA Novosti.

Still, the Kremlin called the assault “an attempt on the life of the president,” saying Russia “reserves the right to take retaliatory measures when and where it considers necessary.”

No Injuries

The drones were disabled and crashed in the Kremlin without causing injuries or damage, the presidential press service said in a statement. There was no way to immediately verify the alleged attack.

If confirmed, even a failed strike on a complex that for centuries has symbolized Russian official power would be a dramatic step in bringing the threat of war home to the country. Since Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February last year, Russian missiles and drones have repeatedly struck the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and other cities, killing thousands of civilians. Air-raid sirens rang out across the country Wednesday evening.

The Kremlin’s claim drew angry responses from Russian politicians. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said legislators will “demand the use of weapons which are capable of stopping and destroying the Kyiv terrorist regime.”

But state television appeared to play down the drone report, sticking largely to other news Wednesday afternoon. There was no explanation for why it took about 12 hours from the time of the alleged attack for the Kremlin to comment.

Sergei Mironov, a senior pro-Kremlin legislator called for “a real war” in retaliation in a Twitter post that included a video of an object exploding on the roof of the Senate Palace just off Red Square. That clip couldn’t immediately be verified.

“This can’t be left without some kind of demonstrative response,” said Ruslan Pukhov, a Moscow-based military expert. “There will be a missile or bomb strike on some symbolic target.” He noted that defending against the small drones allegedly used against the Kremlin is “practically impossible.”

The US is still working to ascertain exactly what transpired, but one official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the US received no advance warning of anything that may have taken place.

Military Parade

Despite the attack, Peskov said Putin will participate in the Red Square military parade on May 9.

The Kremlin claim comes amid rising security worries ahead of the holiday and a planned Ukrainian offensive. About a dozen cities around Russia have canceled parades and other public activities for May 9, citing unspecified security concerns. Many canceled fireworks.

Shortly before the Kremlin statement was released, Moscow city authorities issued an order banning the use of drones in the capital, state-run Tass news service reported.

Starting last year, Russia deployed anti-aircraft weapons in and around the capital to step up protection. In recent months, there have been several reports of drones of various sizes crashing in regions outside Moscow.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for a string of sabotage and other attacks around the country since the invasion. Kyiv hasn’t officially taken responsibility, however.

(Updates with Russian, US responses from seventh paragraph)

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