Russia’s Medvedev Calls for 'Elimination' Of Zelensky & 'His Clique' After Drone Attack
Update(1305ET): Outspoken former Russian president and current deputy chairman of the security council Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday in a post on social media that the overnight drone attack on the Kremlin has left Moscow with no options but to "eliminate" Ukrainian President Zelensky and his "clique". Essentially he's calling for a 'decapitation' strike of the government in Kiev.
As for Zelensky, he's vehemently denied his government was behind the attack, which Russia is asserting was an assassination attempt targeting Putin.
Zelensky, in Finland, denies Ukraine attacked the Kremlin.— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) May 3, 2023
“We don’t attack Putin or Moscow. We fight on our territory. ... We don’t have enough, you know, weapons for this.”
“We didn’t attack Putin. We leave it to the tribunal.”pic.twitter.com/PsdtR4wUIW
And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken weighed in, casting doubt on Russia's narrative:
“I can’t in any way validate them,” said Blinken, who was at an event with the Post to preview the 2023 World Press Freedom Index. “We simply don’t know. Second, I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt.”
Meanwhile, more interesting videos - and closer up showing the inbound drone - continue to emerge...
What kind of state-of-the-art air defenses took down the drones that flew at the Kremlin last night? Footage of one explosion shows two people atop the Kremlin Senate building, allegedly armed with “weaponry to destroy UAVs.” Eat your heart out, Elon Musk. https://t.co/u28MVdBS4L pic.twitter.com/y1Esn30zlg— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) May 3, 2023
Here is the host of RT's Cross Talk suggesting a huge escalation in the Russian response is coming:
Drone strikes on the Kremlin: Well Kiev and its western backers certainly have Moscow’s attention. The Kiev regime will truly regret this attention. Civilian leadership is fair game now.— Peter Lavelle (@PLCROSSTALK) May 3, 2023
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Update(10:02ET): Zelensky's office is insisting it had nothing to do with the drone strike on the Kremlin, which Russian officials say was a "terrorist" attempt to assassinate President Putin:
Even though Ukraine has denied involvement, pro-Kremlin voices are already calling for revenge. In a social media post, Vyacheslav Volodin, the chairman of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said: "We will demand the use of weapons capable of stopping and destroying the Kyiv terrorist regime."
Another video of a reported Ukrainian drone hitting the Kremlin last night pic.twitter.com/nutepPdooD— Faytuks News Δ (@Faytuks) May 3, 2023
The reaction out of lawmakers in Russia's State Duma has been predictably hawkish, also with prominent Russian MP Mikhail Sheremet reportedly saying "It's time to launch a missile attack on Zelensky's residence." Via news wires:
RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DEMANDS KYIV REGIME BE DESTROYED AFTER DRONE ATTACK ON KREMLIN
Russia‘s State Duma on Kremlin attack:— Russian Market (@runews) May 3, 2023
Socialist-Revolutionary leader #Mironov: “This is a real casus belli - a pretext for war. To eliminate the terrorist elite of Ukraine. We have something to hit their bunkers with.”#Sheremet: “It’s time to launch a missile attack on… pic.twitter.com/SKOfESbPRl
The New York Times meanwhile has underscored that "If confirmed, it would be the most audacious attempted strike on Russian soil since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year." The report also provides a reminder of recent US intelligence revelations which previewed just such a scenario as drones targeting the Kremlin:
Local and regional authorities in Russia have reported a series of drone strikes in recent months. Some have landed close to Ukraine’s border with Russia, but at least one has hit south of Moscow. Ukraine has not acknowledged responsibility for most of the incidents. Moscow is around 280 miles northeast of the Ukrainian border at its closest point.
Last month, The Washington Post reported that the United States had secretly monitored discussions among Ukrainian officials about possible attacks against Moscow timed to coincide with the Feb. 24 anniversary of Russia’s invasion. The White House feared that such a move would provoke an aggressive response from Moscow, and two days before the anniversary, the C.I.A. said that Ukraine’s intelligence directorate “had agreed, at Washington’s request, to postpone strikes” on Moscow. The information was part of a trove of classified U.S. intelligence documents obtained by The Post and other news organizations.
Meanwhile, overnight there were also new Russian aerial attacks against Kiev and other locations throughout Ukraine. There continue to be reports of Russian bombers airborne over the country, as people on the ground brace for more waves of strikes.
Speculation continues over the drone attack on the Kremlin...
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Update(0845ET): Below is the clearest video to have surfaced thus far which appears to show what the Kremlin is calling an assassination attempt targeting President Putin:
#BREAKING: Russia says Ukraine tried to attack the Kremlin with drones in a move to target President Vladimir Putin, alleges terrorist act underscoring its right to respond. pic.twitter.com/lEgwxVUieT— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) May 3, 2023
The video is remarkably close and shows the inbound flight path of the drone as it flew over the Kremlin perimeter. A small explosion briefly sets fire to the rooftop of the struck main building, which houses presidential offices, and may have resulted in minor damage.
Will this incident provide Moscow with a justification for the possible coming "shock and awe" campaign against Ukraine in response?
Ukraine is quickly trying to distance itself from the drone attack, which some online pundits have already begun to claim and speculate could have been a 'false flag'...
- UKRAINE HAS NO LINKS TO DRONE ATTACKS ON KREMLIN: PODOLYAK
- UKRAINE: NOT USING RESOURCES TO ATTACK FOREIGN TERRITORIES
- UKRAINE: DON'T HAVE INFORMATION ON KREMLIN DRONE ATTACK
"Ukraine presidential office denies drone strike on Kremlin, says such an attack would achieve nothing and not change anything on the battlefield," VOA correspondent Steve Herman has noted of the statements from Zelensky's office.
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The Kremlin says two drones were sent by Ukraine in an overnight attack on Moscow and on government buildings which it sees as an attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin.
A Kremlin press statement called it a "planned terrorist attack" against Putin directly, and says Russia has a right to respond "where and when it deems necessary".
The president was not injured in the attempted attack and is said to be safe and carrying on his regular work schedule after the drones were "downed" - according to the Kremlin statement, as cited in RIA.
Further the statement emphasized there was no material damage to the president's offices from falling debris after Russian defenses disabled the inbound UAVs.
"The aircraft were downed using electronic warfare measures and caused no casualties or damage, it said in a statement," Russian state media RT reports. "Moscow considers the incident an act of terrorism," and details further:
The incident occurred late on Tuesday night, and both unmanned aircraft fell on the grounds of the Kremlin in Moscow, according to the president’s office. His schedule was not affected.
The statement from the Russian presidency's office emphasized: "We consider this a preplanned terrorist action and an attempt against the Russian president." It happened "ahead of Victory Day and the parade on May 9, when foreign guests plan to be present." The statement detailed, "Two unmanned aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin. As a result of timely actions taken by the military and special services using radar warfare systems, the devices were disabled."
Initial videos from the attack are being widely circulated, strongly suggesting the accuracy of the Kremlin statements of a nighttime attack on central government buildings in Moscow; however, they do appear to show a direct strike of at least one of the drones on a building:
NEW: Kremlin says “Ukrainian” drones attacked Putin’s residence in Moscow last night, but he is safe pic.twitter.com/nQFDNDhpvw— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) May 3, 2023
Fire can be seen atop the roof of one of the iconic buildings of the Moscow Kremlin complex...
Another video purportedly showing the aftermath of the drone attack against the Kremlin pic.twitter.com/GgkwaFl4Em— Michael A. Horowitz (@michaelh992) May 3, 2023
The Russian presidential spokesman followed-up with this message after the initial Kremlin press release:
"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," the message said.
Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov explained that the head of state was not in the Kremlin during what he described as a Ukrainian UAV attack on Tuesday night. He noted that President Putin is currently working from his residence near Moscow.
All of this makes a downed Ukrainian drone incident outside Moscow from last week much more interesting in hindsight, which we covered here: Kremlin Rejects German Media's 'Putin Drone Assassination' Report. It will also be interesting to see whether Russia points the finger at the United States and West for its longtime intelligence support to Kiev, as we reviewed in December based on this statement: We Are Not "Enabling" Or "Encouraging" Ukraine To Strike Within Russia: White House.