The White House has dismissed as “ludicrous” claims by Russia that Washington orchestrated drone strikes on Moscow, saying the US was not involved in the attack and accusing Russia of lying.
Asked about an accusation by the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, that Washington had ordered Wednesday’s strike, John Kirby, the US National Security Council spokesman, said: “One thing I can tell you for certain is that the US did not have any involvement with this incident, contrary to Mr Peskov’s lies, and that’s just what they are: lies.”
He said the US was still gathering evidence on the attack.
“We haven’t come to any conclusions one way or another,” Kirby told reporters at the White House on Thursday. “We’re doing the best we can to try to find out what happened.”
Earlier on Thursday, Peskov claimed the US had “dictated” the plan of what Russia said was a drone attack on the Kremlin intended to kill Vladimir Putin. Peskov did not provide any evidence to support the allegations.
Peskov said: “We are well aware that decisions on such actions, on such terrorist attacks, are not made in Kyiv, but in Washington. And Kyiv is doing what it is told to do. It is very important that in Washington they understand that we know this, and understand how dangerous such direct participation in the conflict is.”
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and other Ukrainian officials have denied Russian allegations that Ukraine was involved in a drone attack on the Kremlin that was intended to kill Putin.
Dramatic video footage on Wednesday showed two flying objects approaching the Kremlin and one hitting the rooftop of the Kremlin Senate, an 18th-century mansion within the grounds of the president’s official residence.
Putin was not in the building at the time of the attack, Peskov said on Wednesday.
The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said earlier: “The United States is certainly not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”
Throughout the 14-month conflict, the Kremlin has repeatedly asserted, without providing evidence, that the west started the war in Ukraine. Russian officials have also accused western nations of orchestrating attacks inside Russia.
The Russian ambassador to the UK previously claimed, without providing evidence, that British special forces were involved in a Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow’s Black Sea fleet last October.
Several hawkish senior Russian officials called on Putin to take retaliatory action shortly after Wednesday’s strike. The former president Dmitry Medvedev said the attack on the Kremlin had left Moscow with no option but to “eliminate” Zelenskiy and his “clique” in Kyiv, while Vyacheslav Volodin, the chair of the State Duma, said new weapons should be used to “destroy the Kyiv terrorist regime”.
However, there are early signs that the Kremlin is keen to project a sense of normality. Peskov said on Thursday that Putin would not give a special presidential address in connection with the attack and that the normal working situation was in place. He said Putin was planning to work from the Kremlin on Thursday.
Peskov also said any retaliatory steps would be “carefully considered and balanced” by the Russian leadership.
Observers noticed that footage of the drone was not shown on state television on Wednesday evening, as news anchors instead read out the Kremlin’s official statement of the attack.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner military group, cautioned against the use of nuclear weapons after the strike. In an audio message posted on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin said: “As someone who is a radical person, I can say that the use of nuclear weapons in response to a drone, of course, is out of the question.”
Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Russian state-controlled international news television network, said the Kremlin’s somewhat muted response indicated the drone attack was not a false-flag operation by the Kremlin with the aim of justifying further escalation.
Simonyan tweeted: “If the drone attack on the Kremlin was a cunning plan by Moscow to justify firing a kill shot at the Kyiv regime, the situation would look very different by now. The air would be filled with statements promising tough responses, an emergency meeting would have been broadcast followed by an emergency address to the nation.”
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