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Intrigue In Skies: US Intelligence Suspects Ukrainian Involvement In Kremlin Drone Attack

Story Highlights
  • Zelensky said earlier this month that he thought the attack might have been a false flag operation and that his country had nothing to do with it.
  • The CIA asked Ukraine's military intelligence chief to "postpone" attacks on Russia on the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

US officials have heard Ukrainian officials talking about how they blame each other for a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month. This has led the US to think that a Ukrainian group may have been behind the attack.

Some members of Ukraine’s military and intelligence agencies think that the operation was done by Ukrainian special operations troops, according to the intercepts.

The talk, along with other intercepted messages from Russian officials who blamed Ukraine for the attack and asked how it happened, has led US officials to think that a Ukrainian group may have been behind the May 3 event. That morning, two drones flew up and hit the top of the Senate Palace in the Kremlin.

But the US hasn’t been able to say for sure who was to blame, and officials say they only think with low confidence that a Ukrainian group may have been behind the attack. US officials still think it’s unlikely that top Ukrainian government officials, like President Volodymyr Zelensky, ordered or knew about the attack before it happened.

Recent US intelligence reports say that Russian officials have privately and publicly speculated that Ukraine was behind the attack. This has led officials to think that the attack was probably not a state-sponsored false-flag operation meant to give Russia a reason to step up its war on Ukraine.

In answer to the attack, the Kremlin has also made some changes to its own security, according to a source who didn’t want to give specifics. After the incident, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said that the city’s air defenses would be made stronger.

The drones that hit the Kremlin looked small and carried a light load, which is likely why they didn’t set off Russian air defenses. No one knows if they would have had enough range to fly from Ukraine to Moscow.

Zelensky has denied Ukraine was behind the attack

Zelensky said earlier this month that he thought the attack might have been a false flag operation and that his country had nothing to do with it.

“Russia has no victories to report,” he said to reporters earlier this month in Helsinki, Finland. “Because of this, [Russian President Vladimir Putin] has to do things that aren’t expected, like launch drone attacks on people without warning.”

The Ukrainian military said that after the incident, Moscow fired a wave of missiles at Kyiv. The missiles were sent by drones that said “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin.”

“We didn’t attack Putin,” Zelensky added. “We’ll let the court decide.”

Officials in the US don’t think it was a plot to kill Putin. Peskov has said that Putin was not in the Kremlin at the time of the event. It is well-known that Putin does not spend much time at the Kremlin.

There are still some options that US officials have not ruled out, such as the idea that the operation was done by non-state Ukrainian or Russian actors inside Russia. This could include Russians who like Putin and want to get more people to back him.

Zelensky said in Helsinki by a representative of Ukraine’s defense intelligence service.

‘The Ukrainians are defending themselves’

Sources say this isn’t the first time the US has seen Ukrainian officials pointing fingers at each other after a mysterious attack on a Russian target, like the car bombing that killed Darya Dugina or the suspected truck bombing of the Kerch Bridge that connects Russia and Crimea.

The US also knows that Ukraine has thought about fighting Russia in the past. The CIA asked Ukraine’s military intelligence chief to “postpone” attacks on Russia on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to classified Pentagon papers that were leaked online earlier this year.

Another US intelligence report, based on signals intelligence, says that Zelensky at the end of February “suggested striking Russian deployment locations in Russia’s Rostov Oblast” with unmanned aerial vehicles, since Ukraine doesn’t have long-range weapons that can reach that far.

US leaders have always said that they do not want Ukraine to attack Russia from across the border.

Earlier this month, when British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly went to Washington, he said that there was no new knowledge about who was behind the attack, but that “the Ukrainians are defending themselves.”

Cleverly said, “They need to defend themselves in a way that works.” “They are the ones who have been hurt, and we should never forget that. And they do have to use force to protect themselves. But make sure it’s always well-thought-out, in the right amount, and helps them reach their bigger goals instead of working against them.

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