Two drones crashed into the Kremlin Wednesday evening, leading to speculation that Ukraine was involved in an attempted assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin has said that two drones were intercepted and shot down by Russian security forces, causing no material damage to the Kremlin itself. The statement also said that the attack was a “planned terrorist act” and an “attempt on the life of the president,” carried out on the eve of Victory Day.
Videos circulating on social media show a drone exploding and smoke rising over the roof of the Kremlin. 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.
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,” he said.
Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, posted three fire emojis on his Telegram channel, but deleted the post shortly after.
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 train derailments and other drone strikes, most of which have gone unaddressed by the Ukrainian government.
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.”
The incident comes ahead of an expected Ukraine counter–offensive to try and drive Russia out of Ukraine’s eastern regions. Putin was away from the Kremlin at the time, the Kremlin said, and nobody was injured by the drone crash.
The Kremlin said it reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it sees fit. It is unclear what measures it will take, but tensions are high between the two countries and the future of the region is uncertain.