Dnipro, Ukraine — Russiawith explosive drones overnight, though Ukraine said Thursday that it had managed to shoot most of them down. Russia called the attack payback for what it claims was an in Moscow using drones on Wednesday.
The Kremlin claimed the attack was an attempt by Ukraine to assassinate President Vladimir Putin and, on Thursday morning, Russia’s government accused the U.S. of planning it.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied any Ukrainian role in an attack on the Kremlin, insisting that his country’s forces were acting only to defend Ukraine’s sovereign territory — though there has been evidence over the last week that they’re also stepping up attacks, using drones, on Russian infrastructure, both in occupied territory and across the border inside Russia.
Russia quickly vowed to retaliate for the alleged double drone strike, calling it a “planned terrorist act.” The Kremlin said both drones were shot down before they struck Putin’s official residence, but it has offered no evidence to back up its claims.
U.S. officials have been working to confirm the origins of the alleged drone attack, but a State Department spokesperson said Wednesday that he would “take anything coming from the Kremlin and the Russian Federation with a shaker of salt.”
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday dismissed the pleas of ignorance from both Ukraine and the U.S. as “ridiculous.”
“We know very well that decisions on such actions and such terrorist attacks are made not in Kyiv, but in Washington,” he said, claiming that Ukraine was “doing what it is told to do” by the U.S. and alleging that Ukraine’s military objectives “are not determined by Kyiv, but they are determined in Washington, and then these goals are brought to Kyiv so that Kyiv fulfils them.”
“Washington must clearly understand that we know it,” Peskov said.
Ukraine accused Russia of staging the whole thing, and Zelenksyy placed the blame firmly at the feet of Putin himself.
“It’s all really simple — Russia has no victories,” Zelenskyy said. “He [Putin] can’t further motivate his society, he can’t send his soldiers into death anymore, and he can’t motivate his country anymore… now he needs to find any possibility to motivate them.”
Russia unleashed its own wave of drones on Ukraine in retaliation for the alleged drone attack. Ukrainian officials said the country’s air defense systems destroyed 18 of 24 of the unmanned aerial vehicles, including all of those headed for the capital Kyiv. It was the third time the capital had been targeted in four days.
The southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, which was occupied by Russian forces until they werelast year, bore the brunt of Moscow’s payback. Officials said Russian shelling killed 21 civilians and wounded dozens more, hitting a supermarket, train crossing and civilian homes.
In an ominous sign of more trouble ahead, a curfew was declared for Kherson city, to last through the weekend.
Some voices in Moscow have started calling for the direct targeting of Zelenskyy himself. One general said Kyiv had “crossed another red line,” predicting a strike on Ukraine’s presidential palace in retaliation.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian Parliament, said in a message posted Wednesday on the Telegram messaging app that there could “be no negotiations with the Zelenskyy regime.”
“We will demand the use of weapons capable of stopping and destroying the Kyiv terrorist regime,” he said.
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