Following a preliminary intelligence assessment of the May 3 drone attack on the Kremlin, US intelligence officials said the attack was likely an operation orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s intelligence or special military units, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
What is not clear, however, is which Ukrainian unit carried out the attack or if President Volodymyr Zelensky or any top officials in Kyiv were aware of the operation.
The US intelligence community reached its assessment based in part on intercepted communications from Russia in which Kremlin officials blamed Ukraine for the drone attack as well as Ukrainian communications in which officials expressed suspicions that their country was responsible.
Based on the preliminary assessment, US officials said they have a “low” level of confidence that Ukraine’s government directly authorized the attack since they were unable to find evidence identifying which Ukrainian officials, units, or operatives were involved.
The May 3 attack, which caused little damage, appeared to be one of a series of operations that have made US officials uncomfortable. As Ukraine’s main supplier of weapons and equipment, the Biden administration is concerned that Russia will blame the United States and will expand the war beyond Ukraine.
Officials said the intel community has assessed that there is a loose confederation of Ukrainian units that are capable of conducting limited operations in both Ukrainian territory and Russia, either through their own personnel or by working with partners. Some of these operations are being conducted with little or no oversight from President Zelensky.
US intel agencies believe these Ukrainian units were also responsible for the murder of pro-Russian blogger Maksim Fomin in an explosion in St. Petersburg in early April and the October 2022 assassination of Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent pro-Kremlin nationalist.
Intel officials also believe that these units are responsible for several cross-border attacks on Russian towns, including last Monday’s attack in Belgorod, as well as last September’s explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea.