Kremlin accuses Washington of directing alleged drone attack on Putin
The Washington Post May 4, 2023
KYIV, Ukraine — The Kremlin spokesman on Thursday directly accused the United States of ordering what Moscow has alleged was an attempted assassination of President Vladimir Putin with two drones that were sent to attack the Russian president's official residence. John Kirby, the spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, said Dmitry Peskov "is just lying."
Ukrainian officials denied any role in the alleged attack on the Kremlin, and some suggested Russia had staged it to create a pretext for escalating its war.
"We know very well that decisions about such actions, about such terrorist attacks, are made not in Kyiv, but in Washington, and Kyiv does what it is told," Peskov told reporters Thursday.
Kirby said that it was still not clear to Washington what had happened, but he bluntly rebutted Peskov's claim. "I can assure you that there was no involvement by the United States in this, whatever it was," he said during an appearance on MSNBC. "We had nothing to do with this. Peskov is just lying there, pure and simple."
Peskov said the denials by the U.S. and Ukrainian officials of their involvement "are absolutely ridiculous."
He added, "We know that often it is not even Kyiv that determines the targets, but Washington determines them and then brings them to Kyiv so that Kyiv implements them. Whether or not to divide all of this by two is up to them, but Washington should know that we know this clearly."
Putin was not in the Kremlin at the time of the alleged strike on the Senate Palace, which contains his official residence within the walled compound in the center of Moscow. But Peskov said that Putin was working there Thursday and that protective measures, including air defenses, would be strengthened.
Peskov was also asked why he had not mentioned the alleged attack during his briefing with reporters the day before, even though it had already occurred. He cited an "operational assessment" as the reason for issuing a separate statement.
Moscow's accusation against the United States came several hours after Russia launched a wave of self-destructing drones against Kyiv and the southern port city of Odessa overnight, with explosions ringing out in the two cities.
Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv and across Ukraine at about 2:30 a.m. — the third attack on the capital in four days, Serhiy Popko, head of the city military administration, said in a post on Telegram.
Ukraine's air force said that of 24 drones launched by Russia at Ukraine, 18 were shot down.
Wednesday's alleged attack on the Kremlin reportedly took place in the early hours of the morning and resulted in two drones being shot down without any casualties, Russian officials said.
Video footage showed one of the drones exploding and hitting the dome of the Senate Palace and another exploding just above the dome.
Russian officials called the assault "a planned terrorist attack" and said they reserved the right to respond "when and where" they saw fit.
During a broadcast of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday, Kirby said that Washington was not involved. Ukrainian officials often complain that the United States has limited their ability to strike targets inside Russia by not providing more longer-range weapons.
"We certainly don't dictate to them the terms by which they defend themselves, or the operations they conduct," Kirby said. "However, we have been clear with them publicly, and we have been clear privately, we do not encourage nor do we enable them to strike outside Ukraine."
The Washington Post's Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia, contributed to this report.