Video has emerged showing what appears to be a drone striking at the dome of the Senatsky Dvorets in the Kremlin in Moscow. Russian officials claim that the building came under attack by Ukraine and have vowed to retaliate, while Ukraine's president denied Kyiv's involvement in the incident.
The video shows what appears to be a drone approaching the dome and then exploding in a ball of fire that lit up the sky. It seems that this drone did not impact the dome itself, but detonated very close to it, sending flaming debris falling. Two drones are suspected to have attacked the dome in succession.
Stills captured from another video appear to show two drone strikes, one at 2:27 A.M. and another at 2:43 A.M.
Moscow residents say the sound of the explosion could be heard from across the Moskva River, according to the Yakimanca Telegram channel, a Moscow neighborhood social media site.
“The strength of the [explosion] was like a roll of thunder, neighbors from Serafimovicha Street write,” according to Yakimanca. “Also, residents of the House on the Embankment saw sparks in the sky and people with flashlights near the Kremlin wall after the claps. The illumination of the Kremlin and the Kremlin embankment is now off.”
Residents of the House on the Embankment, an iconic block-long apartment building along the banks of the Moskva River, reported “a strong bang and smoke in the center at about 2:30 a.m.,” according to Yakimanca, which posted videos of the incident. “A few minutes later, the popping repeated.”
Putin's press service blamed Ukraine for the attacks, which could be viewed as a major symbolic victory for Ukraine, especially ahead of Victory Day on May 9. There is hardly a higher profile target than the Kremlin. On the other hand, they could also be used to rally Russians to support Putin's war efforts. This has already led to speculation that this was a calculated move by Russia.
The video also shows people climbing the tower just prior to the detonation of one of the drones, which has led to suspicions as to exactly how all this played out.
"Last night, the Kyiv regime attempted a drone strike against the residence of the President of the Russian Federation at the Kremlin," Russia's official Presidential Press Service stated.
"Two unmanned aerial vehicles targeted the Kremlin. Timely action by the military and special services involving radar systems enabled them to disable the devices. They crashed in the Kremlin grounds, scattering fragments without causing any casualties or damage."
"We view these actions as a planned terrorist attack and an assassination attempt targeting the President, carried out ahead of Victory Day and the May 9 Parade, where foreign guests are expected to be present, among others."
Putin "has not suffered in this terrorist attack. His working schedule remains unchanged and follows its ordinary course. Russia reserves the right to take countermeasures wherever and whenever it deems appropriate."
However, Mikhail Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, denied Kyiv's involvement.
"As for the drones over the Kremlin. It’s all predictable," Podolyak said in a tweet. "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.' 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."
Podolyak's comment about Ukraine not attacking Russian territory is also specious, as we have repeatedly reported numerous incidents where Russian towns along the border and targets beyond have come under attack by various means.
Regardless of who is to blame, Russia has clearly anticipated some kind of attack on its capital, installing a Pantsir air defense system on top of at least two different government buildings in Moscow, including the Ministry of Defense's headquarters in January. You can read more about that in our coverage here.
We don't know at this point what kind of drones were involved or from where they were launched, but there have been other apparent attempts by Ukraine to strike near Moscow and Ukrainian drones have gotten closer and closer to the capital in recent months. On April 24, an explosives-laden Ukrainian drone, most likely a UJ-22, was found a short distance from Moscow. You can see it in this tweet below.
We also reported about an incident in February, where a Ukrainian drone came within 70 miles of Moscow. You can read more about that in our coverage here.
But despite the attack, the Victory Day parade will go on and Putin will take part, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to TASS.
Putin is working today at his residence near Moscow in Novo-Ogaryovo, Peskov told RIA Novosti.
“The president's schedule continues without changes,” he said.
As a result of the attack, Moscow's mayor issued an order banning drone flying in the city.
Meanwhile, there was yet another Ukrainian attack in Bryansk Oblast, which sits roughly 100 miles away from the Ukrainian border.
“UAVs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine attacked a military airfield in the Bryansk region on the night of May 3,” the Russian Baza news agency reported on its Telegram channel.
“According to preliminary data, a total of five UAVs participated in the attack,” according to Baza. “Two of them were destroyed by small arms, two more exploded on the territory of the airfield. Another drone was not found”.
As a result of the attack, a “non-operating” An-124 cargo jet “received minor damage,” according to Baza. “There were no casualties.”
Bryansk Oblast, which borders Ukraine, has been a frequent target of attacks.
There was also a suspected drone attack on a Russian oil facility in Krasnodar Oblast Russia, across the Kerch Strait from Crimea, according to a local government official.
"A fire at an oil depot in the Temryuk district of the Kuban is seen from Mount Mithridates in Kerch," Krasnodar Krai Governor Veniamin Kondratyev wrote on Telegram channel, adding that there are no victims and no danger to the public.
The fire response "was assigned the highest rank of difficulty. The fire area was 1,200 square meters. The drone attack has not yet been officially confirmed, but local public reports report that the fire was preceded by an explosion."
Residents of the village were not evacuated, said Kondratyev.
The resulting fire and smoke could be seen from the Kerch Bridge, itself the site of a Ukrainian attack last October.
These are just some of several suspected Ukrainian attacks noted by Russian milblogger Igor Girkin.
These are developing situations and we will update this story as we learn more.
Update: 2:20 P.M. EST
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied his country's involvement in the Kremlin attack.
In response to this incident, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, called for the assassination of Zelensky and his cabinet.
"After today's terrorist attack, there are no options left except for the physical elimination of Zelensky and his cabal," he said on his Telegram channel. "It is not even needed to sign the act of unconditional surrender. Hitler, as you know, did not sign it either. There will always be some kind of changer like the Zitz President Admiral Dönitz."
Medvedev's statement elicited a response from Podolyak.
CIA director Bill Burns will brief the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the incident, according to CNN.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov echoed Zelensky's denial.
Update 12:25 P.M. EST 5/4/23:
This story has been updated to reflect the proper location of the suspected drone attack on a Russian oil depot.
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