Kremlin Says Putin Survived Overnight Assassination Attempt
But Russia’s official version of events left many unanswered questions.
Updated May. 03, 2023 10:35AM ET / Published May. 03, 2023 7:46AM ET
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The Russian presidential administration said Wednesday that the Kremlin was attacked by drones overnight in an attempt on President Vladimir Putin’s life.
Moscow residents had reported hearing two explosions behind Kremlin walls shortly after 2 a.m. local time, after which the lights went out. Footage shared by residents in a local Telegram channel captured the incident, as smoke was seen filling the sky above the Kremlin. Videos also appeared to show part of the Kremlin on fire.
Now, authorities say it was a brazen attack by Ukraine using two drones, both of which they say have been destroyed.
No injuries were reported, according to the TASS news agency. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin was not at the presidential residence at the time.
The Kremlin, describing the incident as a “planned terrorist attack” and “assassination attempt on the president of Russia,” is now threatening to take “retaliatory measures.”
A spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denied that the country was behind any attack on the Kremlin and accused Moscow of deliberately “escalating the situation ahead of May 9,” when Russia routinely flaunts its military prowess to mark Victory Day.
“Separately, the phrasing by the terrorist state is surprising. A terrorist attack is houses destroyed in Dnipro and Uman, or a rocket attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk, and many other tragedies,” Zelensky’s spokesman Serhii Nykyforov said.
The Kremlin’s official version of events left many unanswered questions. Witnesses said the two separate explosions occurred more than 10 minutes apart—meaning federal protection units guarding the Kremlin either did not react to the first blast or are exceptionally bad at their jobs.
A Moscow resident interviewed by the independent outlet Verstka said he heard the first blast at about 2:30 a.m. The second one, he said, happened several minutes later at 2:42 a.m. Footage shared on local Telegram channels of the first and second explosions also surfaced several minutes apart.
Verstka noted that one of the more striking videos of the “attack” was also apparently filmed from a building located on Red Square that belongs to the presidential administration.
An unnamed worker inside the Kremlin told Verstka there was no sense of panic or heightened security as the work day began Wednesday.
“Nothing strange has happened. The Alexander Garden was not blocked off, cars were parked in the lot as usual,” the worker said.