The tight ring of security that surrounds the seat of the Russian presidency was punctured in dramatic fashion by what appeared to be two attempted drone strikes in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Many details about the incident remain murky. Here’s what we know – and the questions that remain:
What happened? Moscow said the alleged attack took place in the early hours of Wednesday. Two “unmanned aerial vehicles” were intercepted and destroyed before they caused any damage or injury, the Kremlin said. The Russian president was not in the building at the time, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Videos then emerged on social media appearing to show the incident. CNN analysis of these videos supports Moscow’s claim that two drones were flown above the Kremlin.
Who's saying what? The Kremlin blamed Ukraine, describing the purported drone attack as an “attempt on the President’s life.” On Thursday, Russia also claimed the US was involved in the attack. Both allegations drew sharp denials from Kyiv and Washington.
Who else could be responsible? One possibility is that the incident was the work of Russian partisans – as claimed by former Russian lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev who's linked with militant groups in Russia. Others speculate that the incident could have been a false flag operation to either rally the public or escalate Russia’s military mobilization. US officials have also said they were still assessing the incident, and had no information about who might have been responsible.
What happens next? Moscow already launched a wave of missiles at Kyiv following the incident, a move in line with its playbook after previous flashpoints in the war. And messages written on Russian drones launched at Odesa overnight read “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin,” according to the Ukrainian military, an apparent reference to the alleged attack.
US and Ukrainian officials have in the past warned that Russia has planned so-called “false flag” attacks along Russia’s border with Ukraine as a pretext for military escalation and Russia has also been embarrassed in recent months by symbolic incidents, such as the sinking of the guided-missile cruiser Moskva. Moscow is also looking to project strength by following through with its planned Victory Day parade. Peskov reiterated that the parade would go ahead as planned.
But while Russia has on occasion used missile bombardments around Ukraine to show its anger following flashpoints in the conflict, the ground fighting in eastern Ukraine has been bogged down in stalemate for months and it appears unlikely that Wednesday’s incident will have a material impact on momentum.