US officials believe Ukraine's security services were behind the drone attack on the Kremlin early this month, despite a denial from Ukraine's president. US intelligence officials don't know exactly which special military or intelligence unit carried out the May 3 attack or whether President Volodymyr Zelensky or other top officials had knowledge of it, the New York Times reports. Some officials believe Zelensky did not know. But the consensus, following a preliminary assessment, is that Ukrainians did as Russia claimed, sending two drones to the Kremlin's Senate Palace, though without much damage occurring.
The consensus is based on intercepted communications from both Russia and Ukraine. In them, Russian officials blamed Ukraine for what they spoke of as a surprise attack, sowing doubt in a "false flag" operation theory, while Ukrainian officials said they believed their country was ultimately responsible, the Times reports. The Ukrainian officials did not have direct knowledge of the attack, including who had carried it out. But the Times describes "an emerging picture of a loose confederation of Ukrainian units able to conduct limited operations inside and outside Russia, either by using their own personnel or partners working under their direction," with or without Zelensky's oversight.
However, given that the drones—likely launched from in or around Moscow—were carrying a limited explosive payload, it's not clear that the attack was meant to do anything more than shock the Russians. "US officials do not believe it was an attempt to assassinate Putin," who wasn't at the Kremlin at the time, CNN notes. According to the Times, US officials also believe Ukrainians were responsible for several attacks on Russian towns near the border with Ukraine and the fatal car bombing of Darya Dugina, daughter of Putin ally Alexander Dugin. US intelligence says Ukrainian officials have blamed each other for Dugina's assassination, per CNN. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)