A drone that crashed outside of Moscow earlier this week was packed with 17 kilos of explosives meant to take out Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new report.
The German news outlet Bild, citing unnamed sources, claimed Thursday that Russian authorities are trying to keep the failed attack by Ukraine a secret. The alleged attack, according to Bild, took place on Sunday, when Russian media reported that a drone had crashed in a village not far from the Rudnevo Industrial Park, where the Russian leader was rumored to be planning a visit.
It remains unclear if Putin really was meant to visit Rudnevo that day. Equally unclear is how, if there really was such an assassination attempt, Ukrainian authorities could have known the Russian leader’s movements.
Yuriy Romanenko, a Ukrainian activist, had tweeted a day after the drone crash claiming there was much more to the story than that which had been reported.
“Last week, our intelligence officers received information about Putin’s trip to the industrial park in Rudnevo. Accordingly, our guys launched a kamikaze drone that flew through all the air defenses of the Russian Federation and fell not far from the industrial park,” Romanenko claimed at the time.
The claims come amid heightened fears in Russia of Ukraine taking the war to Russian territory after a series of drone attacks in recent weeks. Overnight Thursday, Russians in and around St. Petersburg woke up to the sounds of an explosion that reportedly left a massive crater at the site of an old thermal power station.
The Investigate Committee confirmed the blast after residents of Russia’s second-largest city flooded social media with panicked messages about the blast. Investigators say the explosion in Pavlovsk, about 19 miles from St. Petersburg, was caused by an “unidentified device” at the site of an old, unused thermal power station.
“The building of the former boiler station no longer exists,” the news outlet Fontanka reported, noting that a crater about 6 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep can be seen at the site.
The site is not far from an air base where Russia’s military aircraft undergo repairs.
A nearby equestrian club also reportedly suffered damage from the explosion.
A worker at that club told local media he’d felt the shock wave from the blast, adding that, “Let’s just say that if it had happened any closer, I would not be talking to you.”
Several pro-war Russian military bloggers suggested the air base may have been targeted, but there was no immediate confirmation of that by law enforcement.
There was also a bombing in the city of Melitopol—which is in Ukrainian territory currently occupied by Russia—where a Russia-backed police official was reportedly killed by a bomb early Thursday. Both Ukrainian authorities and Russia’s puppet leaders in the Zaporizhzhia region reported that 42-year-old Alexander Mishchenko was killed in a blast near the entrance of an apartment building shortly after 5 a.m. local time.
Russian state media blamed an “improvised explosive device” for the explosion. Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russian-backed administration, called it a “terrorist attack” by Ukraine in a statement on Telegram.