Russian authorities have accused Ukraine of attempting to attack the Kremlin with two drones in an effort to assassinate President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin decried the alleged attack attempt early on Wednesday morning (Wednesday evening AEST) as a “terrorist act” and said Russian military and security forces disabled the drones before they could strike.
A statement on the Kremlin’s website said debris from the unmanned aerial vehicles fell on the grounds of the seat of Russia’s government but did not cause any damage.
The statement, which did not explain what caused the drones to break up, said no casualties were reported.
A video published overnight on a local Moscow news Telegram channel, which appeared to have been filmed across the river from the Kremlin, showed what looked like smoke rising over the building.
According to the text accompanying the video, residents of a nearby apartment building reported hearing bangs and seeing smoke about 2.30am (7.30pm AEST). It was impossible to independently verify the posted footage.
Vitaly Shevchenko, Russia editor at BBC Monitoring, told the broadcaster several clips were circulating on social media, one of them showing a plume of smoke billowing over the Kremlin and another appearing to show the moment it hit the dome in one of its biggest buildings.
“And while the location is pretty easy to verify, and judging by all the ninth of May, ie Victory Day, decorations seen below it suggests that this video is very recent,” he said.
“So nothing that I’ve seen would suggest that this incident is fake, who carried out it is a different question of course.”
Kyiv categorically denied involvement in the attack.
“We do not attack the Kremlin because, first of all, it does not solve any military problems. Absolutely,” Ukraine’s presidential advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, said.
“And this is extremely disadvantageous from the point of view of preparing our offensive measures.
“And most importantly, it would allow Russia to justify massive strikes on Ukrainian cities, on the civilian population, on infrastructure facilities. Why do we need this?”
The Kremlin didn’t present any evidence to back up its account, including the allegation of an assassination attempt as Russia prepares to observe its annual Victory Day on Tuesday.
“We consider these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the president of Russia, carried out on the eve of the Victory Day, the parade on May 9, where foreign dignitaries are expected,” the Kremlin’s statement read.
Russia retains the right to respond “when and where it sees fit”, the statement said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti that Putin wasn’t in the Kremlin at the time and was working from the Novo-Ogaryovo residence.
The Kremlin added that Putin was safe and continued to work with his schedule unchanged.
Peskov said the parade would take place as scheduled on May 9.
Shortly before the news about the alleged attack broke, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin issued a ban on using drones in the Russian capital, with an exception for drones launched by authorities.
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