The Russian ambassador to the United States has accused President Joe Biden’s administration of supporting Ukrainian cross-border attacks after an alleged drone strike hit the Kremlin.
Russian authorities have called Wednesday’s incident an assassination attempt against Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denied any connection to the alleged attack, while President Joe Biden’s administration has cast doubt on the official narrative, saying it was up to Kyiv to decide how it would defend itself.
In comments shared with Newsweek by the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said that “we hoped that the Administration would have the guts and dignity to condemn this terrorist act.”
“The world remembers how, in 2001, the Russian President was the first to lend a helping hand to the American people, who were then subjected to the terrorist attack,” Antonov said. “Everything is forgotten. Today the United States is whitewashing the Kiev criminals.”
“The statements of high-ranking officials that Kiev can choose how to defend itself are the textbook example of double standards, a policy of encouraging the Zelensky regime to attack the Russian Federation,” he added. “The words of the bureaucrats about allegedly deterring the Kiev Nazi regime from hitting targets outside its borders are a false farce.”
Zelensky and his administration have denied any ties to Nazism, though Putin has declared Ukraine’s “de-Nazification” along with its “demilitarization” to be top aims of his so-called “special military operation” first launched in February 2022.
Meanwhile, Antonov vowed a severe response to the attack and asserted that Washington would do the same if such an action were conducted on its own territory.
“How would Americans react if a drone hit the White House, the Capitol or the Pentagon? The answer is obvious for any politician as well as for an average citizen: the punishment will be harsh and inevitable,” Antonov said.
“Russia will respond to this insolent and presumptuous terrorist attack,” he added. “We will answer when we consider it necessary. We will answer in accordance with the assessments of the threat that Kiev posed to the leadership of our country.”
During a press conference in Finland, the latest member of the U.S.-led NATO military alliance to which Ukraine also sought membership, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “We don’t attack Putin or Moscow, we fight on our territory, we defend our cities and villages.”
The alleged attack against the Kremlin is part of a series of reported drone attacks to have occurred within Russia’s territory since the conflict began in February 2022.
Also on Wednesday, another drone attack was said by local emergency services to have caused a fire at the southern Krasnodar region’s Ilsky oil refinery, near the Kerch Strait bridge connecting mainland Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in an internationally disputed referendum held in 2014.
Kyiv has distanced itself from such cross-border operations, which have caused growing frustrations in Moscow.
In response to the alleged attack on the Kremlin, Russian Security Council Deputy Chair Dmitry Medvedev warned on his Telegram channel that “there are no options left other than the physical elimination of Zelensky and his clique.”
The U.S., which is the top supplier of weapons to Ukraine, has reacted with skepticism toward Russia’s account of the alleged attack, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying he “would take anything out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt.”
Asked if the U.S. would criticize Ukraine for attacking Russian territory, the top U.S. diplomat said that “these are decisions for Ukraine to make about how it’s going to defend itself, how it’s going to get its territory back, how it’s going to restore its territorial integrity and its sovereignty.”
U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel later echoed Blinken’s remarks, emphasizing that “Russia invaded Ukraine, they did so unprovoked, they started this war, and they could end it today if they pulled their troops out.”
“Russia continues to fire missiles and drones at Ukraine every week,” he added. “And they have done so and targeted scores of Ukrainians, including children, and they have been—targeted places like hospitals, apartment buildings. And we have been very clear that we’re going to continue to support Ukraine, as it defends itself from Russia’s invasion on this.”
Patel also doubled down on the U.S. position that Washington did not encourage Kyiv to strike targets within Russian territory, saying the Biden administration has “been clear and consistent” in its stance “about not encouraging or enabling the Ukrainians to strike beyond its borders.”
Antonov called such U.S. statements “striking in their cynicism and absurdity.”
“The U.S. did not find it possible to recognize the obvious thing—it was a terrorist action planned by the Zelensky regime and an assassination attempt targeting the President of the Russian Federation,” Antonov said. “Moreover, the timing was not chosen by chance—ahead of Victory Day and the May 9 Parade, where foreign guests are planned to take part in.”
“The theses that this act of terrorism was allegedly a ‘false flag operation’ are blasphemous and deceitful,” he added. “That is, it was Russia itself that staged a provocation against the heart of our statehood?!”
And while Ukraine and its international supporters, including the U.S., have accused Russia of committing war crimes throughout the conflict, Antonov argued that “the atrocities of the Zelensky regime and the indulgence of it by the West only testify to the fact that our opponents have no desire to seek peace, to save thousands of lives of ordinary Ukrainians.”
“Definitely,” he added, “we will take this circumstance into account while working out our strategy to implement the goals and objectives of the special military operation.”
This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.