Putin targeted in Kremlin drone assassination attempt - but Ukraine denies fireball strike on Moscow

3 May 2023, 13:03 | Updated: 3 May 2023, 17:13

Russia claims Putin has dodged as assassination attempt by Ukraine at the Kremlin.

By Will Taylor

Ukrainian drones tried to assassinate Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, Russia has claimed.

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Moscow said Kyiv tried to strike him with two unmanned vehicles overnight but the attempt failed and the president is safe, and branded it a "terrorist" act it could retaliate over.

Footage circulated on the Telegram messaging app that showed a drone explode above the dome of the Kremlin Senate building.

Another clip showed what is believed to be anti-aircraft fire over the Russian capital.

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: "We don't attack Putin or Moscow. We fight on on our territory. We are defending our villages and cities."

The Kremlin said: "Two unmanned 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 ..."

That referred to the Victory Day parade, an annual celebration of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The imagery is especially powerful, with Russia falsely claiming the Ukrainian government is a neo-Nazi regime it must overthrow to justify its invasion.

Read more: Moment RAF planes intercept Russian jet flying close to British airspace

But in a damning indictment of a war that has seen Russia lose tens of thousands of troops, Moscow has had to scale back military parades throughout the country amid fears they could be hit by saboteurs.

The centrepiece of the celebrations tend to be a large parade in Moscow's red square. One video that caught a drone flying into the Kremlin before exploding on a dome shows the stands set up for the May 9 parade.

"The Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures where and when it sees fit," the Kremlin added.

Russia claims there was no material damage to the buildings at the compound.

A spokesperson said: "As a result of this terrorist act, the president of the Russian Federation was not injured.

"His work schedule has not changed, it continues as usual."

Ukraine had not yet officially commented on the attacks and has often remained tight-lipped when Russian bases were struck in the past.

Read more: Putin launches new missile blitz on cities in Ukraine killing at least eight people including mother and daughter, 2

Despite Russian referrals to "terror", captured documents from the invasion showed how Moscow planned to kill top members of the Ukrainian regime if it had successfully taken over the country.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in the presidential office in Ukraine, said: "First of all, Ukraine wages an exclusively defensive war and does not attack targets on the territory of the Russian Federation. What for? This does not solve any military issue.

"But it gives RF grounds to justify its attacks on civilians...

"Secondly, we are watching with interest the growing number of mishaps and incidents that are taking place in different parts of RF.

"The emergence of unidentified unmanned aerial vehicles at energy facilities or on Kremlin’s territory can only indicate the guerrilla activities of local resistance forces.

"As you know, drones can be bought at any military store...

"The loss of power control over the country by Putin’s clan is obvious. But on the other hand, Russia has repeatedly talked about its total control over the air. In a word, something is happening in RF, but definitely without Ukraine's drones over the Kremlin..."

Russia is bracing for a Ukrainian counter attack now it has been equipped with some Western tanks, including a small number of British Challenger 2s.

While there have been fears Ukraine might be underprepared for its bid to liberate more territory, Russia is said to be preparing to try and cling on to the regions it has occupied and slowing down offensive operations.

It has failed to totally conquer Bakhmut, an eastern city that it has pushed hard to capture and lost massive amounts of troops in launching "human wave" attacks, with the notorious Wagner mercenary group heavily involved.

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