May 3, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sophie Tanno, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, May 4, 2023
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4:54 p.m. ET, May 3, 2023

Russia says 2 drones flew above the Kremlin. There's no evidence of Ukrainian involvement, CNN analysis shows

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Katie Polglase, Sebastian Shukla, Anna Chernova and Paul P. Murphy

The Kremlin has yet to present physical evidence supporting the Russian government’s claim Wednesday that it foiled an attempt by Ukraine on President Vladimir Putin’s life with a drone attack, although videos have surfaced that purport to show the attack — including what appears to be the shooting down of a drone — and its aftermath. 

CNN analysis of video showing the incident supports the Kremlin’s claim that two drones were flown above the Kremlin early Wednesday, but CNN found no evidence of Ukrainian involvement. 

Here's what CNN knows so far about how events unfolded: A video that appeared to show smoke rising from the Kremlin, which was geolocated by CNN, surfaced on a local neighborhood Telegram channel at 2:37 a.m. local time Wednesday. The first reports of the incident citing the Kremlin came via Russian state media TASS and RIA around 2.33 p.m. local time — around 12 hours later. 

Shortly after the first media reports, another video appearing to show the moment a drone exploded above the Kremlin began circulating widely on social media. In the video, the drone appears to fly toward the building’s domed roof, followed by what looks like a small explosion. In this video, two people appear to be climbing on the dome holding flashlights and can be seen ducking down just before the moment of the explosion. The people climbing the drone are not present in the first of these videos, but appear in the second, suggesting they were responding to the fire caused by the first drone at the time the subsequent drone appeared. 

CNN has analyzed videos shared by the Russian state-run channel TVC that appear to show there were two separate drones from different directions within minutes of each another, based on the times displayed on the nearby Spasskaya tower clock. The first drone was spotted over the Kremlin at 2:27 a.m. local time. It exploded over the Senate Palace, after which a fire broke out on its roof. The second drone was recorded at 2:43 a.m., and its fragments fell on the territory of the Kremlin. While the first drone caused a fire at the top of the dome, the second didn’t, appearing instead to explode in the air.  

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did not mention the incident Wednesday during a routine weekday call with reporters at around 12:30 p.m. local time, roughly two hours before media reports emerged. 

Ukraine has denied any responsibility for the alleged attack, with Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak telling CNN that Ukraine has "nothing to do with drone attacks on [the] Kremlin."

12:06 p.m. ET, May 3, 2023

Ukraine's Zelensky denies assassination attempt on Putin

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio in London and Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denied that his country was responsible for what Russia says was an assassination attempt against Russian President Vladimir Putin, after an apparent drone attack on the Kremlin. 

"We don't attack Putin or Moscow," Zelensky said during a news conference in Helsinki.

The Ukrainian president said that Ukraine didn’t have enough weapons to spare on incidents like this.

"We fight on our territory, we are defending our villages and cities. We don't have enough weapon[s] for this. That's why we don't use it anywhere [else]," Zelensky explained. “For us that is the deficit, we can't spend [waste] it.”

“We didn't attack Putin. We leave it to tribunal,” he said.

12:03 p.m. ET, May 3, 2023

European Union will ramp up ammunition production for Ukraine and European defense, EU Commission says

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls

A Ukrainian serviceman checks his weapon after loading ammunition during a military training exercise in the Zaporizhzhia r, Ukraine March 29, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
A Ukrainian serviceman checks his weapon after loading ammunition during a military training exercise in the Zaporizhzhia r, Ukraine March 29, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo (Reuters/FILE)

The European Union is boosting production of ammunition and missiles to help replenish depleting Ukrainian and EU stocks, the European Commission said Wednesday.  

With an allocated a budget of $552 million, the initiative — which is called the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) — will "ramp up the EU's production capacity" and "address the current shortage of ammunition and missiles as well as their components," the commission said in a news release. 

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said, "Ukraine is heroically resisting the brutal Russian invader. We stand by our promise to support Ukraine and its people, for as long as it takes. But Ukraine's brave soldiers need sufficient military equipment to defend their country."  

ASAP will "help supply more ammunition for Ukraine to defend its citizens and it will also strengthen our European defense capabilities," von der Leyen said.


11:50 a.m. ET, May 3, 2023

US analysts are poring over intelligence for clues on purported drone attack in Moscow, sources say

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

US officials are still assessing the Kremlin drone incident and Russian claims that Ukraine attempted to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, with some raising questions about how a drone could’ve gotten so close to the building to begin with.

US officials did not see signs overnight that an attack either by Russian or by Ukrainian actors was being planned, two people familiar with the matter told CNN, but analysts across the government are poring over intelligence, including intercepted communications and satellite imagery, for clues as to what might have happened.

Some context: Kyiv is approximately 862 kilometers (about 535 miles) from Moscow. Russia has accused Ukraine of multiple attempted drone strikes deep inside Russian territory, including one earlier this year when the governor of the Moscow region claimed a Ukrainian drone had crashed near the village of Gubastovo, which is southeast of the capital.

11:41 a.m. ET, May 3, 2023

Blinken: US is "intensely engaged" with Russia on detained journalist but way forward is currently unclear 

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Christian Sierra and Allie Malloy

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends an event in Brussels on April 4.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends an event in Brussels on April 4. (John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the United States is "intensely engaged with the Russians" to seek detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s freedom, but added that there was not "a clear way forward."

"We have a channel that [US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin] established some time ago to try to work on these cases. So we're engaged. I wish I could say that in this moment, there was a clear way forward. We don't have that in this moment, but it's something that we're working every single day," he said at a Washington Post event.

On Monday, Blinken described the dialogue with Russia on the issue of wrongfully detained Americans as "irregular."

The top US diplomat said Wednesday that the US is also trying to get Russia to provide consular access to Gershkovich, which they've only done once.

Separately, Biden marked World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday by calling for the release of Gershkovich, as well as Austin Tice, who disappeared over a decade ago in Syria.

"No family should have to endure the pain I’ve seen their families bear. But in far too many places around the world, autocrats and their enablers continue to repress a free and independent media—through censorship, retribution, threats, lawsuits, harassment, disinformation, detention, and physical attacks," according to a statement from Biden.

"Courageous journalists around the world have shown time and again that they will not be silenced or intimidated. The United States sees them and stands with them," Biden said.

More about Gershkovich: After being arrested in March, Gershkovich is now being held in a pre-trial detention center at the notorious Lefortovo prison until May 29. He faces up to 20 years in prison on espionage charges. The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied the spying accusations against Gershkovich. He was denied an appeal to change the terms of his detention on April 18.

Gershkovich’s arrest marked the first detention of an American reporter in Russia on allegations of spying since the Cold War.

11:03 a.m. ET, May 3, 2023

Secretary of State Blinken told Ukrainian counterpart that the US "regretted" classified documents leak

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that the United States "regretted" the massive US classified documents leak that occurred last month.

Blinken said he told Kuleba that the US "very much regretted the unauthorized exposure of these documents, that we took very seriously our obligations and responsibility to protect information."

Speaking at a Washington Post event Wednesday, Blinken said he reiterated the US support for Ukraine.

"I think it's fair to say that Ukrainians, as well as many other countries around the world, have benefited from the extraordinary information that the United States is able to develop and provide that helps support, defend, protect their security, as well as ours," he said.

Blinken did not address Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim that he found about the leaks from the press and not from US officials.

The top US diplomat said the leaks have "virtually not come up" in his travels and meetings.

"In fact, to the extent it's come up, I've raised it, just to make clear how seriously we take this," Blinken said.

More about the leaks: Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old suspect in the leak of classified US documents posted on social media, was charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal of classified information and defense materials.

According to charging documents, the Massachusetts Air National Guardsman allegedly began posting information about the documents online around December 2022, and they included a wide range of highly classified information — including eavesdropping on key allies and adversaries and blunt assessments on the state of the Ukraine war.

CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz and Jeremy Herb contributed reporting to this post.

10:48 a.m. ET, May 3, 2023

Russia's claim of drone strike attempt on Putin comes as Ukraine gears up for expected counteroffensive

From CNN staff

Russian President Vladimir Putin is pictured in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on May 2.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is pictured in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on May 2. (Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Sputnik/Getty Images)

Russia on Wednesday accused Ukraine of an assassination attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin using drones targeted at the Kremlin, which Ukrainian officials have denied and decried as pretext for a "large-scale terrorist attack" from Russian forces.

The claims come as Russia reportedly looks to be preparing for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southern Russian-occupied regions, and as the West watches Russia for any actions around Victory Day on May 9.

What we know about the anticipated counteroffensive: Satellite imagery reviewed by CNN and other news organizations shows hundreds of miles of Russian defenses — including anti-tank ditches, obstacles, minefields and trenches — that have been built up in parts of southern Ukraine.

Satellite imagery also shows a large Russian base in northern Crimea that in February had been full of equipment, including artillery and tanks was much emptier in late March and almost completely vacated by late April. It’s unclear where the equipment went, but it's likely it was sent north to reinforce Russian defensive lines.

Ukraine has been largely mum on specific dates for launching the spring counteroffensive, with some officials saying that it's possibly been happening already.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters in a video posted Saturday that the counteroffensive will happen, but he was "not ready to say in detail when it will happen and how," citing the need for "certain weapons."

On Wednesday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Moscow’s claims about the alleged drone strike were an attempt at taking control of the narrative ahead of a counteroffensive.

"Russia without a doubt is very afraid of Ukraine starting an offensive on the front line and is trying to seize the initiative, distract the attention and create distractions of a catastrophic nature," he said. "So, Russian statements on such staged operations need to be taken as an attempt to create pretext for a large-scale terrorist attack in Ukraine."

What we know about Victory Day: May 9 marks Victory Day, when parades and marches are held in Russia to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. Speculation has grown in recent weeks that it could end up exposing the number of fallen Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Leaders of multiple regions in Russia have scaled back or canceled some celebrations, citing lack of military equipment to display and potential security risks.

Serhiy Nykyforov, a spokesperson for Zelensky, said on Wednesday that the alleged strike is a "trick."

"What happened in Moscow is obviously about escalating the mood on the eve of May 9," he said.

CNN's Tim Lister, Seb Shukla, Victoria Butenko, Vasco Cotovio and Nathan Hodge contributed reporting to this post.

11:21 a.m. ET, May 3, 2023

US secretary of state says he "can’t in any way validate" reports of alleged Kremlin drone attack

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pictured speaking at an event in Denver, Colorado, on April 28.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pictured speaking at an event in Denver, Colorado, on April 28. (Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had seen reports from Moscow of an alleged drone attack by Ukraine on the Kremlin, but he "can’t in any way validate them."

"We simply don't know," Blinken said Wednesday at a Washington Post Live event. 

"I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt," he added. 

"We'll see what the facts are. And it's really hard to comment or speculate on this without really knowing what the facts are," Blinken added.

Ukraine has denied any knowledge of the alleged drone attack in Moscow.

10:13 a.m. ET, May 3, 2023

US still gathering facts in alleged drone incident in Moscow, officials say

From CNN's Alex Marquardt and Kevin Liptak

The United States had no warning about the alleged drone attack on the Kremlin that Russia claimed was an assassination attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin, which Ukraine vehemently denies, according to a US official.

"Whatever happened, there was no advanced warning," the US official told CNN, adding that authorities are still trying to figure out what exactly happened. 

Another US official told CNN they are still working to assess Russia's claims and have not yet validated the Kremlin assertion that Ukraine tried to assassinate Putin.