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Ukraine war latest: Zelensky dismisses Russia’s claims of attempted ‘Putin assassination’ as drone reportedly explodes above Kremlin

by Alexander Khrebet May 3, 2023 11:45 PM 4 min read
An unidentified drone has reportedly exploded just above the Kremlin Senate building on May 3. (Screenshot from the video circulating on social media)
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Key developments on May 3:

  • Russian shelling kills 21 civilians, injures 48 in Kherson Oblast in one day
  • Russian media: Kremlin attacked by drones
  • Ukraine dismisses Russia’s claims of ‘assassination attempt on Putin’
  • Russia’s Medvedev openly calls for murder of Zelensky
  • Counteroffensive to start ‘soon,’ says Zelensky

President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed Russia’s claims that Ukraine attempted to ‘assassinate’ Russian dictator Vladimir Putin after a drone reportedly exploded just above the Kremlin overnight on May 3.

"We don't attack Putin or Moscow, we fight on our territory, defending our villages and cities. We don't even have enough weapons to do that.” Zelensky told a news conference in Finland while visiting the summit of the Nordic country leaders.  

“That's why we didn't attack Putin. We'll leave it to the (international) tribunal,” said Zelensky.

Putin's Kremlin residence was targeted by two “Ukrainian drones,” Russian state media RIA Novosti claimed, adding that the Russian military took down the drones.

The videos circulating on social media show two alleged attacks. One shows air defense apparently downing a drone as it’s approaching the Kremlin. The second shows a drone exploding above the Kremlin Senate dome, causing a fire on the rooftop after a failed interception attempt.

The Kyiv Independent could not verify the authenticity of the footage.

Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said that Putin was not at the residence at the time of the attack. Peskov claimed Russia considers the alleged attack “Ukraine's attempt to assassinate Putin.”

Answering these claims, Zelensky said Putin needs a way to motivate his people, as he has “no victories.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Zelensky’s chief of staff, said "Russia is clearly preparing a large-scale terrorist act (in Ukraine)," hinting that Moscow staged the event.

“What for? This does not solve any military issue. But it gives Russia grounds to justify its attacks on civilians,” Podolyak tweeted on May 3.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy head of Russia's security council, said Moscow “had been left with no option but to physically eliminate Zelensky and his circle,” openly calling for the murder of Ukraine’s president.  

The alleged drone attack occurred in the days leading up to Russia's planned May 9 celebration to commemorate the Soviet Union's role in World War 2. This year, many of the planned events have been canceled due to security concerns.

Read also: Russia’s centuries-long quest to conquer Ukraine

Ukraine’s counteroffensive to start ‘soon’

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine’s forces would "launch the offensive soon."

Speaking of Ukraine’s need for modern fighter jets, Zelensky said that Ukraine will get them after the next success on the battlefield.

“This war is happening in such a way that we must constantly prove it on the battlefield (to get something). First we prove that we can’t be conquered within three days. And after that we receive some weapons,” Zelensky told a news conference in Finland.  

He also said he is confident that Ukraine would receive the modern fighter jets Kyiv has long been asking for, to get air supremacy and support the offensive operation.

“I’m sure we will get the aircraft. Because soon we will have offensive actions. And after them, I’m sure we will be supplied with aircraft,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky hasn’t specified the time and area of Ukraine’s anticipated counteroffensive.

Preparing for the military campaign to liberate Russian-occupied territory, Ukraine's new Offensive Guard force has "fully formed" eight assault brigades.

The brigades will be put under the command of the Armed Forces, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on May 2.

The brigade will be equipped with new Western arms and receive training, which takes up to three weeks, according to the minister.

The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on May 2 that Ukraine's success on the battlefield is "the best way" for Kyiv to initiate talks with Moscow that “produces a just and durable peace."

He added that the U.S. is open to any peace talks that involve Ukraine maintaining its territorial integrity.

Russian attacks kill 21 throughout Kherson Oblast

At least 21 civilians were killed and 48 were injured in Russian May 3 shelling across southern Kherson Oblast and the regional capital, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on May 3.

“A railway station and a crossing, a house, a hardware store, a grocery supermarket, a gas station – do you know what unites all these places? The bloody trail that Russia leaves with its shells,” Zelensky said, vowing to hold all the perpetrators accountable.

The number of casualties has been growing throughout the day.

Russian forces hit a supermarket in the city of Kherson at around 11 a.m, killing and injuring employees and customers, the Interior Ministry reported.

Russian troops have been regularly attacking Kherson and nearby settlements on the western bank of the Dnipro River with artillery, missiles, and drones ever since the Ukrainian forces liberated the area in November.

The local authorities are preparing to evacuate locals if the oblast comes under even more intense attacks, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on April 29.

The curfew in Kherson will be imposed from May 5 to 8, Prokudin said on May 3.

Meanwhile, the fighting continues in the eastern Donetsk Oblast.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces repeated in its evening update on May 3 that Bakhmut, Lyman, Avdiivka, and Marinka in Donetsk Oblast remain the primary targets of Russia's offensive. Ukraine's forces repelled over 30 Russian attacks in these areas on May 3, the military said.

Bakhmut and Marinka, a small industrial town north of Russian-occupied Donetsk, are experiencing the most intense fighting, according to the General Staff.

Read also: Patriot air defense faces its toughest challenge ever in Ukraine

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2:55 AM

Russia attacks 10 communities in Sumy Oblast.

The attacks caused 174 recorded explosions in the area. The village of Znob-Novhorodske endured the heaviest assault, with 59 explosions caused by Russian artillery, mortars, and Grad MLRS.
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