When two drones struck the top of the Kremlin’s Senate palace on May 3, US secret services intercepted communications that could explain the origin of the attack.
U.S. officials have picked up conversations between Ukrainian officials blaming each other for a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month, adding to the U.S. assessment that a Ukrainian group may be responsible, sources familiar with the services told CNN confidentially.
These intercepts have led some members of Ukraine’s military and intelligence hierarchy to speculate that Ukrainian special operations forces carried out the operation.
The conversation, combined with intercepted communications from Russian officials blaming Ukraine for the attack and wondering how it happened, led U.S. officials to consider the possibility that a Ukrainian group was behind the May 3 incident. That morning, two drones flew from the Kremlin toward the Senate Palace and crashed into the building.
However, the United States has not been able to reach a definitive conclusion on who was responsible, and the Ukrainian team is only optimistically assessing whether they were behind the incident. U.S. officials continue to believe that senior officials in the Ukrainian government, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, ordered the attack or had no prior knowledge of it.
According to recent US intelligence reports, Russian officials have privately speculated, as they have done publicly, that Ukraine was responsible for the attack, leading them to believe that the incident was not a state-run false flag operation intended to give Russia an excuse. To continue the escalation of the war against Ukraine.
The Kremlin also made some internal security changes in response to the attack, a source familiar with the secret services declined to elaborate. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said publicly that the city’s air defenses would be strengthened once the episode was over.
The drones that struck the Kremlin appeared to be small, with a relatively light payload, which is why they didn’t engage Russian air defenses, sources told CNN. It is not clear whether there is sufficient range to transport from Ukraine to Moscow.
Zelensky denied that Ukraine was responsible for the attack.
Zelensky earlier this month speculated that the attack may have been a false flag operation and denied that his country was behind it.
“Russia has no victories to report,” he told reporters in Helsinki, Finland, earlier this month. [o presidente russo Vladimir Putin] Do some unexpected things like surprise drone strikes.”
The incident was followed by Moscow launching missiles at Kiev, using drones marked “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin”, according to the Ukrainian military.
“We are not attacking Putin,” Zelensky said. “We leave that up to the courts.”
US officials do not believe it was an assassination attempt on Putin. Peskov said it was well known that Putin did not spend much time in the Kremlin and was not in the building at the time of the incident.
There are still several possibilities that U.S. officials have not ruled out, including that the operation was carried out by Ukrainian or Russian non-state actors inside Russia. Among them may be Putin’s Russian sympathizers, hoping to lend him support.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s security intelligence service referred CNN to Zelensky’s comments in Helsinki.
“Ukrainians defend themselves”
This is not the first time the US has seen Ukrainian officials point fingers at each other in the wake of mysterious attacks on Russian targets, such as the bombing that killed Darya Dukina and the truck bombing of the Kerch bridge. Connects Russia to Crimea.
The US also has information that Ukraine is considering attacking Russia before this. Secret Pentagon Papers released online earlier this year show that the CIA urged Ukraine’s chief of military intelligence to “postpone” attacks against Russia on the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.
Another report by the US Secret Service, sourced by Signal Information Services, said in late February that Zelensky “suggested attacking the Russian region of Rostov” using unmanned aerial vehicles, as Ukraine lacks long-range weapons. That’s how far it goes.
U.S. officials have consistently maintained that they are not encouraging Ukraine to carry out cross-border attacks against Russia.
British Foreign Secretary James James, who visited Washington earlier this month, said there was no new information about the intelligence attack, but that, in general, “the Ukrainians are defending themselves.”
“They have to defend themselves effectively,” CNN answered the question wisely. “They are the injured in this case, and we must never lose sight of that. And to defend themselves effectively, they must respond with the use of force. But it is balanced, proportionate and we must always ensure their broad support. Objectives and not countermeasures.”
*Oren Liebermann contributed to this article
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