Russia accuses US of masterminding Kremlin drone attack
Moscow on Thursday accused the US of masterminding a drone attack on the Kremlin, a charge denied by Washington, and said Ukrainian sabotage on Russian territory had reached “unprecedented momentum”.
Moscow said President Vladimir Putin was working from the Kremlin the day after the attack, which it said was a Ukrainian attempt to kill him.
“Decisions on such attacks are not made in Kyiv, but in Washington,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“Kyiv only does what it is told to do.”
“Washington should understand clearly that we know this,” he said.
Ukraine has denied responsibility, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying “We do not attack Moscow or Putin.”
The US also denied any involvement.
“We had nothing to do with this” John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said on MSNBC. “Peskov is just lying there, pure and simple.”
Throughout its more than year-long offensive in Ukraine, Moscow has maintained that Kyiv is taking orders from the US — accusing the West of leading a war against Russia by proxy.
The Kremlin attack came as Russia prepares to mark one of its main holidays of May 9 — celebrating the Soviet victory over the Nazis — with a traditional military parade on Red Square.
It came after five days of extraordinary apparent sabotage attacks, including trains derailed by explosions and massive fires in annexed Crimea.
But the Kremlin insisted Thursday the parade will happen, despite the attacks in border regions and in the heart of Russian power, but under “strengthened” security.
It added that Putin does not plan “any address on this topic”.
– ‘Unprecedented’ wave of ‘sabotage’ –
Moscow, did, however, acknowledge that the country was facing an “unprecedented” wave of sabotage.
“The terrorist and sabotage activities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are gaining unprecedented momentum,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
Russia has opened a terrorism probe into the Moscow attack.
“What happened is subject to a thorough and operational investigation, the (special services) are working on it,” Kremlin spokesman Peskov said.
“When to await the results depends on them.”
Russia has not released official images of the drone attack. Unverified social media images showed a drone hitting the Kremlin Senate building.
Peskov said “two copper sheets” on the dome of the 18th-century building had been damaged by fire.
“They have been or will be replaced, everything will be like new. There is no other damage.”
On Thursday, Russia’s southern Krasnodar and Rostov regions, both near Ukraine, reported drone strikes that caused fires.
Krasnodar Governor Veniamin Kondratyev said a drone strike set ablaze a refinery.
Shortly afterwards the governor of Russia’s Rostov region, which also borders Ukraine, said a drone had hit a local refinery near the village of Kiselevka and caused an explosion and a fire.
– Zelensky in The Hague –
As Moscow accused the US of planning the Kremlin attack, Ukraine’s Zelensky arrived in The Hague.
He visited the International Criminal Court, which in March issued an arrest warrant for Putin over the alleged illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.
On a surprise visit to the Netherlands, Zelensky called for a special tribunal to be created to hold Russia to account for its “crime of aggression”.
“There should be responsibility for this crime. And this can only be enforced by the tribunal,” he told diplomats and officials at the court.
On the day of the Kremlin attack, Ukraine said Russian shelling had killed 21 people in the southern Kherson region, including in a strike on a supermarket.
Zelensky is also due to meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren.
– ‘Intense strikes’ –
The Netherlands has pledged both financial and military support to Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive in February 2022.
The country announced last month that it would buy 14 Leopard 2 tanks with Denmark to give to Kyiv, which is demanding more heavy weapons.
The Ukrainian air force said Thursday that Russia had fired 24 attack drones overnight, of which 18 were downed. Authorities said there were no casualties.
Sergiy Popko, the head of the city of Kyiv’s military administration, said that “all enemy missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were destroyed over Kyiv by air defence forces”.
Popko said it was the third day of attempted strikes on Kyiv in May.
“Our city has not experienced such intensity of strikes since the beginning of this year,” he said, adding that debris from the downed drones had fallen on different parts of the city but there were no casualties.