UK officials now ‘legitimate military targets’ says Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev

31 May 2023, 11:30 | Updated: 31 May 2023, 11:32

British military support for Ukraine is “an undeclared war against Russia," says Medvedev

Buildings in Moscow were damaged by the Ukrainian drones. Inset, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin
Buildings in Moscow were damaged by the Ukrainian drones. Inset, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Asher McShane

British officials are a "legitimate military target" because of the UK's support for Ukraine, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned.

Mr Medvedev, deputy chairman of Vladimir Putin's security council, claimed the UK's support for Kyiv amounted to an "undeclared war" against Russia.

His comments came after Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Ukraine had the right to "project force beyond its borders" into Russia to resist Mr Putin's invasion.

The Ukrainian authorities have denied launching the drone attack which hit Moscow on Tuesday, but there has been an escalation in incidents within Russia either by Kyiv's military or local groups opposed to the war.

In response to the Foreign Secretary, Mr Medvedev said: "The goofy officials of the UK, our eternal enemy, should remember that within the framework of the universally accepted international law which regulates modern warfare, including the Hague and Geneva Conventions with their additional protocols, their state can also be qualified as being at war.

"Today, the UK acts as Ukraine's ally, providing it with military aid in the form of equipment and specialists, i.e., de facto, is leading an undeclared war against Russia.

"That being the case, any of its public officials (either military, or civil, who facilitate the war) can be considered as a legitimate military target."

UK defence officials believe the incursions into Russia are causing the redeployment of Moscow's forces.

The intelligence briefing from the Ministry of Defence said: "Since the start of May 2023, Russia has increasingly ceded the initiative in the conflict and is reacting to Ukrainian action rather than actively progressing towards its own war aims.

"During May 2023, Russia has launched 20 nights of one-way-attack uncrewed aerial vehicle and cruise missile attacks deep inside Ukraine.

"Russia has had little success in its likely aims of neutralising Ukraine's improved air defences and destroying Ukrainian counter-attack forces. On the ground, it has redeployed security forces to react to partisan attacks inside western Russia."

Putin has claimed that a kamikaze drone attack on Moscow was an attempt by Ukraine to "provoke" and "scare" the country - but Kyiv denies being directly involved.

Moscow was hit by a wave of kamikaze drones on Tuesday morning, with a string of small explosions heard across the Russian capital.

The attacks, which hit buildings at 6:24am local time, could be heard across the city, rattling the windows of buildings miles away from the scene.

Putin said Ukraine had chosen the path of attempting "to intimidate Russia, Russian citizens and attacks on residential buildings", and that it was "clearly a sign of terrorist activity".

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He said air defences around the capital would be strengthened.

A Ukrainian presidential aide denied that Kyiv was directly involved in the attack.

"Of course we are pleased to watch and predict an increase in the number of attacks," presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said, "But of course we have nothing directly to do with this."

Damage could be seen on local buildings in Moscow following the alleged series of attacks by Ukraine.
Damage could be seen on local buildings in Moscow following the alleged series of attacks by Ukraine. Picture: LBC / Alamy

The explosions came just hours after Russia unleashed a series of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) attacks on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, for the third night running.

In a statement, Moscow's Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said there had been minor damage to a number of buildings, however, no serious injuries have been reported following the attack.

Sobyanin went on to call the damaged caused by the attacks "insignificant", with the city's air defences shooting down several drones.

According to Reuters, the ministry said: "This morning, the Kyiv regime launched a terrorist drone attack on targets in the city of Moscow."

Read more: Russia strikes Kyiv in fresh daylight attack following overnight drone barrage

Read more: 'Vindictive and dangerous' Russia poses threat to UK if Ukraine wins war - even without Putin, warns outgoing RAF chief

"Three of them were suppressed by electronic warfare, lost control and deviated from their intended targets.

"Another five drones were shot down by the Pantsir-S surface-to-air missile system in the Moscow region."

Striking blocks of flats in Leninisky Prospekt and Profsoyuznaya Street near Moscow's city centre, initial reports suggested two people had been injured, according to Sobyanin.

One individual was hospitalised, with the residents in two apartment blocks evacuated as a precaution.

The buildings, in a wealthy district of Rublyovka, were damaged, with the area cordoned off as a crime scene by local police as objects were taken away for analysis.

Moscow hit by wave of kamikaze drones in 'revenge attack' following sustained air strikes on Ukrainian capital Kyiv
Moscow hit by wave of kamikaze drones in 'revenge attack' following sustained air strikes on Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Picture: LBC / Alamy

The explosions follow 17 days of sustained attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, with officials noting around 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia had been destroyed by the city's air defence systems overnight.

The latest attack comes after the "most massive attack" on the city occurred overnight into Sunday with Iranian-made Shahed drones, according to senior Kyiv military official Serhii Popko.

The attacks were part of a new wave of increasingly frequent and intense air strikes launched by Moscow this month as Kyiv prepares to launch a counteroffensive to try to take back territory occupied by Russian forces.

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