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White House denies Russian claims that U.S. ordered Putin assassination

 May 5, 2023

On Wednesday, there appeared to be a small drone attack on the Kremlin in Moscow that Russia immediately claimed was a failed assassination attempt on President Vladimir Putin launched by Ukraine at the direction of the United States.

A top spokesman for President Joe Biden's White House dismissed that allegation as "ludicrous" and a blatant lie by Russian authorities, according to the Daily Mail.

Further, a top think-tank closely tracking the Russia-Ukraine conflict and even some U.K. officials have asserted that the failed drone strike coincidentally caught on video was actually a "false flag" operation perpetrated by Russia itself in order to bolster flagging domestic support for the war effort.

Russia Blames U.S. for Drone Attack on Kremlin

CBS News reported Thursday that Russia had launched a barrage of cruise missile and drone strikes across Ukraine, including the capital of Kyiv, in response to the alleged assassination attempt via drones on the Kremlin and also issued a statement that accused the U.S. of being behind the "planned terrorist act" and that any denials or claims of ignorance by the U.S. were "ridiculous."

"We know very well that decisions on such actions and such terrorist attacks are made not in Kyiv, but in Washington," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, stating that Ukraine was only "doing what it is told to do" by the U.S.

He further claimed that Ukraine's military objectives "are not determined by Kyiv, but they are determined in Washington, and then these goals are brought to Kyiv so that Kyiv fulfills them," and added, "Washington must clearly understand that we know it."

"It's a Ludicrous Claim"

Thursday morning, during an appearance on "CNN This Morning," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby was asked by co-host Kaitlan Collins for his response to Russia's claim that the U.S. was behind the small drone attack that resulted in an explosion above the Kremlin's domed roof that caused no real damage to the structure.

"There is a word that comes to mind that I am obviously not appropriate to use on national TV," Kirby said. "'I would just tell you Mr. Peskov is lying. It's a ludicrous claim. The United States had nothing to do with this.

"We don't even know exactly what happened here, Kaitlan, but I can assure you, the United States had no role in it whatsoever," he continued. "And again, just to be clear ... we neither encourage nor do we enable Ukraine to strike outside of Ukraine's borders."

A moment later, asked whether Russian President Putin is a "lawful" and legitimate target for strikes, Kirby danced around the legality of the issue but stated, "We don't endorse, we don't encourage, we don't support attacks on individual leaders."

Drone Strike Assessed as Potential "False Flag" by Russia

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that Ukraine has also denied responsibility for the drone attack on the Kremlin and a British defense official who recently returned from a visit to Kyiv signaled support for that denial as a direct attack on the Kremlin by Ukraine would potentially risk jeopardizing at least some of the international support the besieged nation has received for its internal defense of the Russian invasion.

The British official further suggested that Russia itself was behind the attack on the Kremlin in a bid to "shore up domestic support" for Putin on the "pretext that he personally is being targeted by Ukraine," per the Daily Mail.

That appears to align with the May 3 assessment of the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War, which suggested that "Russia likely staged this attack in an attempt to bring the war home to a Russian domestic audience and set conditions for a wider societal mobilization."

"Several indicators suggest that the strike was internally conducted and purposefully staged," the think-tank continued. "Russian authorities have recently taken steps to increase Russian domestic air defense capabilities, including within Moscow itself, and it is therefore extremely unlikely that two drones could have penetrated multiple layers of air defense and detonated or been shot down just over the heart of the Kremlin in a way that provided spectacular imagery caught nicely on camera."

"A strike that avoided detection and destruction by such air defense assets and succeeded in hitting as high-profile of a target as the Kremlin Senate Palace would be a significant embarrassment for Russia," the group stated. "The Kremlin’s immediate, coherent, and coordinated response to the incident suggests that the attack was internally prepared in such a way that its intended political effects outweigh its embarrassment."

The ISW further noted that had the drone strike truly been launched by Ukraine or some other nation, it would have been a "surprise event" that would have been met with a "disorganized" and "scrambled" response from Russian authorities.

That assessment ultimately concluded that the alleged "false flag" attack on itself by Russia was linked to its upcoming May 9 celebration of the Soviet victory over the Nazis in World War II and appeared to be successful in ginning up increased support for Putin and calls for retaliatory strikes by pro-war voices inside Russia.