Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blamed the US on Thursday for what Russia claimed was an assassination attempt by Ukraine targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin – and said retaliation options were being weighed.
“Attempts to deny it both in Kyiv and in Washington are, of course, completely ridiculous,” Peskov said. “We know very well that decisions on such actions and such terrorist attacks were made not in Kyiv but in Washington.”
Kyiv dismissed the allegation as a contrived excuse by Moscow to justify widespread strikes on Ukraine’s ravaged cities. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby asked about Russia’s claim to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” said Peskov was “just lying.”
“I can assure you that there was no involvement by the United States,” said Kirby. “Whatever it was, it didn’t involve us.”
Peskov declined to give details on possible retaliation, suggesting only “well-thought-out measures that meet the interests of our country.”
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said some indicators suggesting the strike was internally staged and staged “in an attempt to bring the war home to a Russian domestic audience” and increase public support for more call-ups and other sacrifices.
Moscow said its defenses shot down two drones that attempted to strike Tuesday night at the Kremlin residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin is not in the Kremlin and his schedule has not been affected, his office said. Ukraine has denied involvement.
“We are not attacking Putin or Moscow,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. “We are fighting on our own territory, defending our villages and cities.”
∙ Ukraine’s National Corruption Prevention Agency designated Hungary’s OTP Bank as an “international war sponsor,” citing the bank’s decision to continue operations in Russia.
∙ Deputy Chair of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev called for Zelenskyy to be “physically removed.” Medvedev, who served one term as Russia’s president, cited what Russia views as recent terror attacks. He added that Zelenskyy was not required to sign Ukraine’s “”unconditional surrender”.
∙ Zelenskyy, speaking Thursday at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, said he was confident Putin would face justice for war crimes committed against Ukraine. Zelenskyy traveled in a Dutch-supplied plane and an armored car amid tight security.
∙ Apparent attacks on Russian fuel networks in or near occupied Crimea are “likely to force adjustments” to military refueling operations, the UK Defense Ministry wrote in its daily assessment of the war.
Three Russian drones that struck the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa early Thursday appeared to have been sent in retaliation for a reported attack on the Kremlin, Ukraine’s military said. Kyiv was also the target of an air attack for the third time in four days. But the fiercest fighting continues for Bakhmut and surrounding cities in the Donetsk region, military officials said. Ukraine’s air force intercepted 18 of 24 Iranian-made drones launched by Russian forces in various regions in general, and no casualties were reported, the military said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is targeting art in a campaign against “justifying terrorism.” The panel opened a criminal case against Russian actor Aleksei Panin, who could face up to seven years in prison after writing on Telegram after the Crimean Bridge explosion last year that he “couldn’t hide his joy.”
The panel also launched a criminal case related to a theatrical production of the prize-winning play “Finist the Bright Falcon,” the Russian-opposition media website Meduza reported. Investigators are trying to establish that the play and its stage production contained terrorist propaganda, a violation of Russian law, Meduza wrote.
Security concerns appear to be rising in Russia ahead of Tuesday’s Victory Day, when Russia commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany ending World War II. Germany signed the Instrument of Surrender late May 8, 1945 − May 9 Moscow Time, and the date is a major holiday across the country. Peskov said the annual parade on Red Square would go ahead as scheduled, but the Russian independent outlet Vertska reported that authorities in at least 21 cities canceled parades.
In Central Russia’s Bryansk region, governor Aleksandr Bogomaz said veterans would be welcomed to their yards, and a wreath-laying ceremony would be held at a local monument.
“Our veterans will not be left without attention,” he said.
Contributor: The Associated Press