Russia claimed on Thursday that the United States was behind an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin that it said was a Ukrainian attempt to assassinate President Vladimir Putin.
The accusation, made without citing evidence, comes less than 24 hours after Moscow said it had thwarted a nighttime drone attack on the building that serves as the heart of the country’s government and Putin’s residence, something Kiev flatly denied.
Three US officials, speaking to NBC News on Wednesday, said the United States had no prior knowledge of any attack.
But on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov went further, claiming that Washington had masterminded the incident.
«We are well aware that decisions about terrorist attacks of such a level are not made in kyiv, but in Washington,» he told reporters in his daily briefing. «kyiv only does what it is told to do.»
Peskov dismissed the US and Ukrainian attempts to «repudiate» the drone incident as «absolutely ridiculous.»
A Russian investigation into the incident is underway, he said, adding that Moscow’s response would involve «thoughtful, balanced and appropriate steps in the interest of our country», without specifying what they might be. Russia’s security council, chaired by Putin, will meet on Friday.
“We are not attacking Putin or Moscow,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday.
“We are fighting on our own territory, defending our towns and cities,” he told a news conference in Finland. “We don’t have enough weapons even for this. That’s why we don’t use them elsewhere. We have a deficit. We cannot use everything and everywhere.”
Asked how Putin reacted when told of the alleged attack, Peskov said the Russian leader «always remains calm, collected, clear in the assessments and orders he gives in extreme situations.»
Putin was in the Kremlin on Thursday and the staff were working normally, he said.
Peskov previously said Putin was not in the building at the time of the alleged attack, and analysts have dismissed suggestions it was a serious assassination attempt.
But hardliners have demanded a reaction, with some calling for a retaliatory strike against Zelenskyy.
The incident took place ahead of Russia’s celebration next Tuesday of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, a major holiday that will present a high-profile opportunity for Putin to rally the Russians behind war.
Peskov said that the air defenses would be strengthened and that this would happen anyway for the military parade on Red Square. He said the parade would continue as normal and would include a speech by Putin.
Russia has frequently accused the United States of making key decisions for Ukraine during the war. Putin, his officials and the state media have repeatedly said that Russia is at war with the entire NATO alliance. NATO’s expansion into Central and Eastern Europe was one of the pretexts for the invasion of Russia.
The United States has given Ukraine more than $77 billion in military and humanitarian aid, but has tried to ensure its weapons are not used in attacks on Russian soil.
Washington announced an additional $2.6 billion in funding Wednesday, including $500 million in battlefield weapons such as artillery, tank ammunition, mortars, rockets and fuel tankers.
The news comes ahead of an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive in which the kyiv army will attempt to retake land captured by Russian forces.
A wave of recent incidents has seen explosions at sites inside both countries, as the two sides apparently prepare the ground for the coming fighting.