Ukraine denies Russian declare Kyiv despatched drones to hit Kremlin

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia claimed it foiled an assault by Ukrainian drones on the Kremlin early Wednesday, calling it an unsuccessful assassination try towards President Vladimir Putin and promising retaliation for what it termed a “terrorist” act. The Ukrainian president denied it, saying: “We don’t assault Putin or Moscow.”

Putin wasn’t within the Kremlin on the time and was at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence exterior Moscow, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov advised Russia’s state information company RIA Novosti.

There was no unbiased verification of the purported assault, which Russia authorities mentioned occurred in a single day however offered no proof to assist it. Questions additionally arose as to why it took the Kremlin hours to report the incident and why movies of it additionally surfaced later within the day.

A video posted in a single day on a neighborhood Moscow information Telegram channel, shot from throughout the river from the Kremlin, appeared to point out smoke rising over the buildings. It wasn’t doable to determine its veracity. In keeping with textual content accompanying the footage, residents of a close-by house constructing reported listening to bangs and seeing smoke round 2:30 a.m.

One other video on social media, which seems to be taken from throughout Crimson Sq., seems to point out the second a drone explodes in a flash of fireside above the roof of the Senate Palace within the Kremlin, close to a flagpole flying the Russian tricolor, with particles falling on the roof. It additionally was not doable to independently confirm this footage.

The Kremlin mentioned Russian navy and safety forces had stopped the drones earlier than they might strike. No person was damage, it added. Its official web site mentioned particles from the drones fell on the Kremlin grounds with out harm.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on an unannounced go to to Helsinki for talks with the leaders of 5 Nordic international locations, denied any function.

“We don’t assault Putin or Moscow. We combat on our territory. We’re defending our villages and cities,” he mentioned at a information convention.

Ukraine presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak mentioned the claims might present a pretext for Russia “to justify huge strikes on Ukrainian cities, on the civilian inhabitants, on infrastructure amenities.”

White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned the U.S. was “unable to substantiate the authenticity” of Russia’s declare.

Requested whether or not the U.S. believed Putin was a lawful goal of any potential Ukrainian strike, Jean-Pierre mentioned that because the begin of the battle, the U.S. was “not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike past its border.”

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq mentioned that the United Nations “is just not ready to substantiate these stories. We strongly reiterate our name on all involved to chorus from any rhetoric or motion that would additional escalate the battle,” Haq mentioned.

The purported drone assault could be a big escalation within the 14-month battle, with Ukraine taking the battle to the guts of Russian energy.

Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic research on the College of St. Andrews, mentioned, “It actually wasn’t an try and assassinate Putin, as a result of he doesn’t sleep within the roof and he most likely by no means sleeps within the Kremlin.”

He added it was too quickly to show or disprove whether or not it was a Russian try “both to make Ukraine look reckless or to buck up Russian public opinion” or if it was a Ukrainian operation to embarrass Russia.

James Nixey, director of the, Russia and Eurasia program on the Chatham Home think-tank, mentioned “the 2 more than likely prospects are a ‘warning shot throughout the bows’ by Kyiv or a false flag operation by Moscow designed to justify extra intense assaults in Ukraine or extra conscription.”

If it was a warning shot by Kyiv, then it was “one more surprising safety lapse by the Russian state,” he mentioned.

“If it’s a false flag operation by Moscow, then it reeks of desperation,” Nixey added. “And it’s a high-risk technique more likely to be uncovered, contemplating how poor their tradecraft appears to be.”

The alleged assault prompted calls in Russia from pro-Kremlin figures for assassinations of senior leaders in Ukraine.

The Kremlin claimed the assault was deliberate to disrupt Victory Day, which Russia celebrates in Crimson Sq. on Could 9 to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany in World Conflict II. Peskov mentioned the parade would go on as scheduled.

Earlier than the information concerning the alleged assault broke, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin issued a ban on utilizing drones within the Russian capital, with an exception for these launched by authorities. He gave no purpose for the ban, saying solely it might stop the “unlawful use of drones that may hinder the work of regulation enforcement.”

Zelenskyy was in Finland in search of better firepower for his armed forces as they determine learn how to dislodge Russian troops from occupied areas of Ukraine.

Each Ukraine and Russia reportedly have skilled ammunition shortages after a winter of long-range shelling and missile strikes. Kyiv has been urgent its allies for extra as officers think about when to start out driving Russian forces out of Ukrainian territory they occupy.

Zelenskyy mentioned Ukraine’s counteroffensive is coming “very quickly.”

This yr “can be decisive … for victory,” he mentioned.

The Nordic international locations — Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland — have been amongst Kyiv’s strongest backers since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Earlier than assembly Zelenskyy, Nordic officers appeared prepared to offer extra support.

“Right here within the north, we have now a extra unpredictable and aggressive Russian neighbor, and it’s important that we talk about collectively learn how to face this new state of affairs,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre mentioned.

In preventing Wednesday, 16 civilians have been killed in a “huge assault” by Russian forces on southern Kherson province, the Prosecutor Normal’s Workplace mentioned.

Russian fireplace hit the practice station and the one open grocery store within the regional capital, additionally referred to as Kherson, killing 12 individuals and wounding 22, officers mentioned. Three vitality employees died once they got here underneath fireplace whereas making repairs north of town.

The talks got here a day after U.S. officers mentioned Washington plans to ship Ukraine about $300 million in extra navy support, together with an unlimited variety of artillery rounds, howitzers, air-to-ground rockets and ammunition.

The weapons will all be pulled from Pentagon shares, to allow them to go shortly to the entrance, in response to the officers who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the help has not but been formally introduced.

Elsewhere, Russia used Iranian-made drones throughout its third assault on Kyiv in six days. Explosions have been heard within the capital and elsewhere through the night time as Ukrainian air defenses shot down 21 of the drones, Ukraine’s air pressure mentioned. No harm or casualties have been reported

In the meantime, a large blaze broke out at an Russian oil depot in Russia’s southern Krasnodar area, east of the Russian-held Crimean Peninsula, in response to Krasnodar Gov. Veniamin Kondratyev.

He didn’t say what precipitated it, however some Russian media retailers mentioned it was seemingly from a Ukrainian drone assault. There was no official touch upon that risk.

Residents heard an explosion shortly earlier than the fireplace erupted, Russian information website Baza mentioned.

Navy analysts suppose Ukraine is focusing on Russian provide traces whereas gearing up for a doable counteroffensive amid enhancing climate and because it receives extra weapons and ammunition from the West.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group whose fighters are a key pressure within the grinding months-long battle for the japanese city of Bakhmut, was quoted by Russian media as saying Wednesday that he believes the counteroffensive is underway.

“I imagine that the offensive of the Ukrainian military has, actually, already begun. We see the best exercise of enemy aviation, we see the best exercise alongside the perimeter and inside our entrance,” he mentioned, in response to the stories.

Explosions additionally derailed a Russian freight practice and hit a Russian airfield in latest days. Final weekend, a large fireplace erupted at an oil depot in Crimea after it was hit by two Ukrainian drones, a Russia-appointed official mentioned.

In anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russian forces are centered on destroying logistical routes and facilities of Ukraine’s armed forces with long-range strikes, Kyiv navy officers say.

On the similar time, Russia plans to proceed talks with the U.N. and different events to an wartime settlement on facilitating Black Sea agricultural shipments, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov mentioned forward of talks on Friday.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian International Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed new consultations between Russia and the U.N. on entry of Russian agricultural merchandise and fertilizers to the world market could be held in Moscow.

Signed in July and renewed twice, the deal freed Ukrainian grain shipments that have been held up within the nation’s blockaded ports final yr. The deal expires Could 18 except Russia agrees to its renewal.

Jari Tanner in Helsinki, and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed.

___ Observe AP’s protection of the battle in Ukraine at

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