US officials say inputs indicate Ukrainian role behind failed drone attack on Kremlin

Officials in the United States believe that Ukraine was likely behind the failed drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month, The New York Times reported on Wednesday (May 24). 

The officials said Ukraine is also possibly behind a number of other killings and incursions on Russian territory. The report, however, cited intelligence officials as saying that they do not know which unit exactly was behind the drone attack. 

It is also unclear if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky knew about the attack beforehand. 

Though the failed drone attack did not cause any damage, but it eroded the impression of invincibility of Kremlin.

The report said that the US has based its estimation on intercepted conversations within both Ukraine and Russia. However, it said that it has low confidence in that estimate because it has yet to determine which precise unit was behind the strike. 

American intelligence agencies are not sure who exactly carried out the attack, but insinuate that it was part of a series of covert operations plotted and conducted by Ukraine’s security services.

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Kremlin drone attack 

On May 3, two drones attacked the Kremlin in Moscow, but they caused little damage before being destroyed by Russia. 

Baza, a Telegram channel with links to Russia’s law enforcement agencies, had posted a video of a flying object approaching the dome of the Kremlin Senate building and exploding with an intense burst of light just before it was about to hit. 

Social media videos showed two objects flying in the same direction towards the dome, with the clock on the Kremlin’s Spassky Tower reading 2:27 and 2:43. The first appeared to be destroyed with only a cloud of smoke, but the second appeared to leave a blazing ruin on the dome. 

The attack made officials in the United States — Kyiv’s biggest military supplier — uncomfortable since the Government weighs the risk of Russia blaming U.S. and retaliating by expanding the war beyond Ukraine.

Russia has consistently blamed Ukraine for the drone attack, and also accused the U.S. of playing a role, and alleged that it was an attempt to kill President Vladimir Putin, but both Kyiv and Washington have vehemently denied their involvement. 

Zelensky denied any Ukrainian involvement and said at a press conference in Helsinki, “We don’t attack Putin, or Moscow, we fight on our territory.” 

After the attack, Russia reserved the right to retaliate, Putin’s office said, and Russian hardliners demanded swift retribution against Zelensky himself. 

The presidency said in a statement: “Two uncrewed aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin. As a result of timely actions taken by the military and special services with the use of radar warfare systems, the devices were put out of action.” 

“We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the president’s life, carried out on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 Parade, at which the presence of foreign guests is also planned.” 

“The Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it sees fit.” 

US officials do not believe it was an attempt to assassinate Putin as he is not known to spending a lot of time at the Kremlin.

The drones that targeted the Kremlin were small with a light payload and it is unclear whether they would have had sufficient range to be flown from Ukraine to Moscow.

Besides, US officials have not ruled out the possibility of non-state Ukrainian or Russian actors inside Russia, including Russians sympathetic to Putin hoping to shore up support for him, carrying out the attack.

(With inputs from agencies) 


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