A drone explodes over the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, May 3, 2023
Wednesday’s Coverage: Another Fuel Depot Explosion Inside Russia
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1438 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is in The Hague, the seat of government in the Netherlands.
Zelenskiy has met leaders of the Dutch Parliament. He praised the Netherlands as “one of our key allies in protecting the values of freedom”. Expressing “special gratitude” to the Parliament for supporting Ukraine’s candidate status for European Union membership, he said accession talks should start by the end of the year.
At a joint press conference with the Dutch and Belgian Prime Ministers, Zelenskiy said Ukraine is already a de facto member of NATO, but should join the bloc formally. He repeated his call for weapons to be sent as quickly as possible.
The President emphasized the need for a special tribunal for war crimes alongside the International Criminal Court.
The aggressor must feel the full power of justice. This is our historical responsibility. Only one institution is capable of responding to the original crime, the crime of aggression: a tribunal. Not some compromise that will allow politicians to say that the case is allegedly done, but a true, really true, full-fledged tribunal.
UPDATE 1230 GMT:
Russia State outlet TASS has added detail on this morning’s drone attack on an oil facility in the Krasnodar region of Russia (see 0500 GMT).
The site said four drones were used, one of which did now explode. The fire in the complex spread over 400 square meters.
UPDATE 0906 GMT:
A “senior UK defense official” has said of the drone attack on the Kremlin….
Anything is possible, but there is no benefit to Ukraine doing it, there is no military advantage, everyone knows Putin doesn’t stay in the Kremlin and the motives are all really in Russia’s favor – the public to rally round; excuse for more random and reckless bombardments; trying to gain sympathy for Russia over Ukraine.
UPDATE 0700 GMT:
The latest Russian shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, including the communities of Kurakhivska and Kostyantynivska, has killed two civilians and wounded nine.
UPDATE 0535 GMT:
The US has announced another $300 million military aid package for Ukraine.
The assistance includes ammunition for HIMARS medium-range rocket systems, artillery and mortar rounds, rockets, and trucks and trailers.
UPDATE 0514 GMT:
Ukraine air defenses have repelled another Russian drone barrage on Kyiv.
Kyiv’s administration said there were no casualties or “destruction of residential facilities or infrastructure” from the third missile and/or drone strikes in four days.
The strikes broke a 51-day pause in Russian assaults on the capital.
Officials said 18 of 24 Iranian-made drones were downed, with attacks also reported on Zaporizhzhia and Odesa.
Three drones hit a university dormitory in Odesa, but there were no injuries.
Tail fragments of two of the drones were inscribed with “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin”.
UPDATE 0500 GMT:
Russian officials also say that drones have attacked oil facility inside the country.
They said emergency services extinguished the fire at a large refinery two hours after the strike near the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk in the Krasnodar region.
The third oil reservoir gets attacked by drones in Russia in less than a week.
This time the facility on fire is in Ilsky, Krasnodar Krai.
All three recent fires directly target Russia’s Black Sea Fleet capabilities, making it difficult for RU to fill up tanks. pic.twitter.com/S9uZCBpiEl
— Myroslava Petsa (@myroslavapetsa) May 4, 2023
The attack is the third in five days on an oil complex in Russian or Russian-occupied territory.
Last Saturday oil fuel tanks exploded in Sevastopol in occupied Crimea. On Tuesday, a fuel depot was set ablaze in Russia’s Krasnodar region, near the Kerch Strait Bridge to Crimea.
“A second turbulent night for our emergency services,” Krasnodar governor Veniamin Kondratyev wrote on Telegram, adding that tanks with oil products were on fire at the Ilsky refinery.
There were no casualties, he said, citing preliminary reports and he did not say how the fire started.
UPDATE 0450 GMT:
Russian shelling on Wednesday killed at least 23 people and injured 46 in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
Twelve of the fatalities were in Kherson city. The Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office has launched a war crimes investigation of the attacks on a supermarket and the train station in Kherson city. An ambulance crew at the railway station was targeted.
Three engineers working to restore power near the villages of Stepanivka and Muzikyvka, close to Kherson, were slain.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Uncertainty continues over a drone attack on the Kremlin early Wednesday morning.
The explosion over Russia’s center of power in Moscow occurred just after 2 a.m. Video showed the moment when the drone detonated, just before striking the complex.
Russian officials claimed Ukraine had tried to assassinate Vladimir Putin, whom they said was not in the building at the time, with two drones that were intercepted by air defenses.
Ukrainian counterparts, including President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, denied any responsibility. Speaking during a state visit to Finland, Zelenskiy said, “We don’t attack Putin, or Moscow, we fight on our territory.”
He referred to the international panel that Kyiv wants to try Russian leaders for war crimes, “We leave it to the tribunal.”
A senior Presidential official said an attack on the Kremlin would “change nothing on the battlefield” and would probably “provoke Russia to take ‘more radical’ actions”. Yuliia Mendel, a former Presidential spokesperson, tweeted:
Another threat from the Kremlin. At the beginning of the war, it made several attempts to assassinate Volodymyr Zelenskyy and kept silent about this. How much trust do we have in Russian information about alleged Ukrainian drone attacks on the Kremlin? After years of lies and…
— Iuliia Mendel (@IuliiaMendel) May 3, 2023
Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said the attack was carried out by “local resistance forces”: “Ukraine wages an exclusive defensive war and does not attack targets on the territory of the Russian Federation.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “we simply don’t know” if the reports are accurate. He added, “[We] take anything coming from the Kremlin with a large shaker of salt.”
«Літаки летять. Будем всіх бомбить» pic.twitter.com/ClM0tqT235
— Андрій Садовий (@AndriySadovyi) May 3, 2023
Senior Russian officials seized on the incident to demand the destruction of the Government in Kyiv.
Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian President who is Deputy Secretary of the State Security Council, said the overnight that Russia’s only option was to “eliminate” Zelenskiy and his “clique” in Kyiv.
/, the chair of the State Duma, blustered, “We will demand the use of weapons that can stop and destroy the Kyiv terrorist regime.”