Russia threatened nuclear revenge today after accusing Ukraine of trying to assassinate Vladimir Putin in a drone strike on the Kremlin. Footage showed a flying object exploding in flames overnight above the fortress in central Moscow where the president has his office and an apartment.
According to the Sun, Putin, 70, was not inside at the time and was not injured, the Kremlin said. Ukraine’s president Volodymr Zelensky today denied his country had attacked Russia or Putin.
But the Kremlin blasted the alleged strike as a “planned terrorist action” – and said it reserves the right to retaliate. And the Speaker of the Russian parliament Vyacheslav Volodin – an intimate Putin ally – appeared to demand a nuclear strike on Ukraine.
He raged: “An attack on the president is an attack on Russia. “There can be no negotiations. We will demand the use of weapons that are capable of stopping and destroying the Kyiv terrorist regime.”
Moscow’s nuclear doctrine clearly states their forces can use nuclear weapons when the country’s “very existence” is at risk. Russian authorities claim they downed two unmanned aerial vehicles that were aimed at the presidential complex – where Putin is known to increasingly live during the war.
Extraordinary footage appeared to show the moment a drone exploded over the Senate Palace, with flames and smoke seen coming from the 18th-century dome at 2.27 am.
Grandstands set up for the Victory Day parade on May 9 can be seen in Red Square below, in front of the fortress walls. A second blast was seen over the rooftops at 2.43 am.
Residents of the nearby Stalinist House on the river embankment said they “saw sparks in the sky and people with flashlights near the Kremlin wall after the thunderclaps”.
The Kremlin said two drones had been used in the alleged attack, but were disabled by Russian electronic defences. But today, as workmen examined the roof for damage, there was incredulity at how the drones could have got past Moscow’s ring of steel air defences.
One Russian Telegram channel cited sources suggesting the whole thing could have been staged. It claimed: “Shooting down such objects above the [Kremlin] towers is prohibited by protocol, so reports of downed UAVs are nonsense.
“Or they exploded on their own. “Or all this was an exercise, a performance, that they decided to pass off as a real attack.” Adding to the mystery, eagle-eyed viewers spotted that at least two people were standing on the dome at the time of the explosion.
The twin blasts came after a wave of kamikaze drone strikes against Russian targets in Crimea and elsewhere. Ukraine has not acknowledged its suspected role in those attacks, and has denied drone hits on the Russian mainland.
And today Zelensky’s press secretary distanced Kyiv from the apparent Moscow attack. The spokesman said: “We have no information about the so-called night attacks on the Kremlin.
“But, as President Zelensky has repeatedly stated, Ukraine directs all available forces and means to liberate its own territories, and not to attack others.” Key Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the attack may have come from “guerrilla activities of local resistance forces” in Russia.