Russia claims that Ukraine attempted unsuccessful drone attacks on the Kremlin overnight in a bid to kill President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin alleges that two unmanned aerial vehicles attempted to strike Putin’s Kremlin residence, but were disabled by radar defense systems.

Videos posted on the Telegram messaging platform depict what users describe as the drones used in the alleged attack on the Kremlin.

Is It True? It’s unclear whether Russia’s allegations are true. Disinformation and false flag operations have long been part of Moscow’s policy toolkit. Ukraine, however, has ramped up its production of drones, including ones with longer ranges and the ability to carry larger payloads. Kyiv says it is working with over 80 domestic drone manufacturers.

Ukraine Denies: In a tweet, Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, claimed that Ukraine “does not attack targets on the territory of the Russian Federation” and attributed the attack “the guerilla activities of local resistance forces.” Russia, he said, “is clearly preparing a large-scale terrorist attack.” What’s noteworthy is that Podolyak does not describe the alleged attack as a false flag operation.

What Will Putin Do? Russia describes the alleged attack as “a planned terrorist action and an assassination attempt” on Putin. It asserts that it “reserves the right to respond where and when it deems it necessary.”

The alleged attack could provide Putin with a pretext to escalate ahead of Ukraine’s planned spring offensive, including by directly attacking Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian leaders.

It may also provide a basis for Moscow to announce another troop mobilization as it faces mounting casualties in Ukraine.

Nuclear Risk: In the coming days, it will also be important to watch for signs of changes in Russia’s nuclear posture, both in terms of rhetoric and deployment. Notably, Moscow said in March that it would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, which neighbors Russia and Ukraine.

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