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Explosions were heard in Kyiv and Odesa early Thursday morning, said Oleksii Honcharenko, the Ukrainian politician and member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), on Telegram.
Air defenses have been activated in Kyiv, the city's regional military administration said. Air alerts have been sounded in most of the eastern half of the country, according to a map posted by Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation.
Yuri Malashko, head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, called for people to “stay in safe places” until the air alert is over.
A fire broke out in the reservoir of Russia’s Ilsky oil refinery in the Krasnodar territory, according to Russian state news agency Tass early Thursday.
Citing emergency services, Tass reported that the fire was a result of a drone strike.
“Due to an attack by an unknown drone, a fuel tank at the Ilsky Oil Refinery in the urban-type settlement of Ilsky in the Seversky district caught fire," Tass quoted emergency services, adding that firefighters have been dispatched to the site.
The fire was burning in an area of 1,200 square meters, it said.
There were no casualties, according to Veniamin Kondratiev, governor of the Krasnodar region, who said in a Telegram post that residents are no longer in danger.
“It's been a second turbulent night in a row for our emergency services. A tank of petroleum products at the Ilsky Oil Refinery in the Seversky District has now been confirmed to be on fire. Fire brigades and MES staff of 48 people and 16 vehicles are already at work,” he said.
On Wednesday, Russian state media said a drone strike ignited a fire that engulfed an oil storage facility in the port of Volna in southwestern Russia's Krasnodar region.
Videos published on social media and geolocated by CNN show the oil storage tanks burning.
The facility is close to the Kerch bridge that was set ablaze by Ukrainian forces in October 2022. It is unclear how the fuel storage tank caught fire and Ukraine has not commented on the incident.
Russia claimed Ukraine attempted to assassinate President Vladimir Putin with a drone strike on the Kremlin overnight on Wednesday, an extraordinary allegation that was met with forceful denials in Kyiv.
Ukrainian officials have even reached out to the White House privately to deny involvement in the incident.
Here are the latest developments:
- Moscow launched a new wave of attacks in southern Kherson region: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out on Russia after he said at least 21 people were killed by shelling in the southern Kherson region. “The world needs to see and know this,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram on Wednesday.
- US Embassy in Ukraine warns of heightened threat of missile attacks: The embassy warned Wednesday of “an ongoing heightened threat of missile attacks,” including in Kyiv. “In light of the recent uptick in strikes across Ukraine and inflammatory rhetoric from Moscow, the Department of State cautions U.S. citizens of an ongoing heightened threat of missile attacks, including in Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast,” the embassy said in a security alert.
- Former Russian lawmaker claims partisans responsible for Kremlin drone incident: A former Russian lawmaker linked with militant groups in Russia claims the recent drone attack on the Kremlin is the work of what he calls Russian partisans, not the Ukrainian military. In an exclusive interview, Ilya Ponomarev told CNN that "it's one of Russian partisan groups," adding that "I cannot say more, as they have not yet publicly claimed responsibility."
- US announces $300 million security package for Ukraine: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new $300 million security assistance package for Ukraine Wednesday. “This latest package will help Ukraine continue to bravely defend itself in the face of Russia’s brutal, unprovoked, and unjustified war,” Blinken said. The top US diplomat said it is the 37th drawdown of US arms and equipment for Ukraine.
- Russian official says Moscow's approach to nuclear deterrence is defensive: The Russian approach to nuclear deterrence is defensive in nature, Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Wednesday during a briefing for military attachés. Fomin said steps should be taken to ensure the security of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. Those steps would be in response to the escalation by NATO, where Russian demands to end US and alliance tactics were rejected, he said.
US Sen. Mark Warner, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday there is “no indication yet” that Ukraine is behind an alleged drone strike on the Kremlin.
“We still don’t have much information,” Warner said. “I think the committee expressed whatever intel we get, we need to hear it as soon as possible again from the agency director. At least at this point, no indication it was sourced by the Ukrainians.”
Asked if US intelligence agencies have ruled out the idea Ukraine was behind the purported attack, Warner again stressed it was too early to know for sure — but there was no indication they were.
Warner was leaving a closed-door briefing with CIA Director William Burns regarding the overnight alleged attack, which Russia said was an assassination attempt on President Vladimir Putin by Ukraine.
Warner said it is “not unusual” to not have much information given how recently the alleged attack took place.
Ukraine strongly denied any involvement in the alleged strike.
Ukraine is privately reiterating to the White House the country was not involved in the alleged drone attack in Moscow, two US officials told CNN.
Officials won’t characterize the level of communication, but the denial has been explicit, one official said.
In the wake of the alleged drone attack the Kremlin accused Ukraine of carrying out in Moscow, the State Department said that the US has previously advised Kyiv not to carry out strikes over its borders.
"I don't want to speculate about the authenticity of this, but we also have been clear and consistent … about not encouraging or enabling the Ukrainians to strike beyond its borders," said State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel at a press briefing.
Asked if long-range strikes against Russia by Ukraine would impact US assistance, Patel said that the US "will continue to support our Ukrainian partners for as long as it takes."
A metal sheet and the apparent burn scar from one of two explosions at the Kremlin complex were visible in a photo taken on Wednesday. The photo was taken by the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency and distributed by Getty Images.
Two objects exploded near the dome of the Senate Palace early Wednesday morning — the blast of the first explosion appeared to be on the dome itself.
The apparent burn scar is seen in the same location as the blast. A metal sheet appears to be covering a portion of the dome as well.
Additional imagery, taken by AFP, shows individuals appearing to inspect the dome on a ladder next to the apparent burn scar.
Archival imagery from Getty taken between September 2022 and March 2023 — in addition to an April 19 satellite image from Maxar Technologies — confirms the apparent burn scar was not present before the explosion.
A former Russian lawmaker linked with militant groups in Russia claims the recent drone attack on the Kremlin is the work of what he calls Russian partisans, not the Ukrainian military.
In an exclusive interview, Ilya Ponomarev told CNN’s Matthew Chance that "it's one of Russian partisan groups," adding that "I cannot say more, as they have not yet publicly claimed responsibility."
Ponomarev, who now lives in exile in Ukraine and Poland, was the only Russian MP to vote against the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and has since been included on a list of terrorist suspects, according to the Russian authorities.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin accused Ukraine of being responsible for two drone attacks on the Kremlin.
In a statement, the Kremlin said, “We view these actions as a planned terrorist attack and an assassination attempt,” adding that “Russia reserves the right to take countermeasures wherever and whenever it deems appropriate."
According to Ponomarev, members of partisans group inside Russia are usually "youngsters, students, residents of large cities. I am aware of the partisan activity in approximately 40 cities across Russia," he told CNN.
"All partisan groups have their own focus, their speciality, their core knowledge. Some of them are focussed on railroad sabotages, some of them are doing arson of military recruitment posts. Some of them are doing attacks on pro-war activists, some of them are doing hacking attacks," he said.
According to Ponomarev, the drone attacks inside Russia are a "new line of operation" for the groups, which he says pose a “real threat."
"What Putin is selling to the nation and especially to the elites is the feeling of invulnerability and security. And partisans are ruining both. They are actually saying the war is here and you guys, you personally, are not safe," Ponomarev said.
Ukraine has denied any involvement in what Russia claims was an attempted drone strike on the Kremlin.
"Ukraine wages an exclusively defensive war and does not attack targets on the territory of the Russian Federation,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian Presidential Office, in a statement shared on Twitter.
"We are watching with interest the growing number of mishaps and incidents that are taking place in different parts of Russia. The emergence of unidentified unmanned aerial vehicles at energy facilities or on Kremlin’s territory can only indicate the guerrilla activities of local resistance forces," he added.
The US Embassy in Ukraine warned Wednesday of “an ongoing heightened threat of missile attacks,” including in Kyiv.
“In light of the recent uptick in strikes across Ukraine and inflammatory rhetoric from Moscow, the Department of State cautions U.S. citizens of an ongoing heightened threat of missile attacks, including in Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast,” the embassy said in a security alert.
In the alert, the embassy urged Americans “to observe air alarms, shelter appropriately, follow guidance from local authorities,” and take actions like immediately seeking shelter inside or going to the lowest level of their buildings “with the fewest exterior walls, windows, and openings; close any doors and sit near an interior wall, away from any windows or openings.”
“If you hear a loud explosion or if sirens are activated, immediately seek cover,” it advised. “Be aware that even if the incoming missile or drone is intercepted, falling debris represents a significant risk,” the alert said. “After the attack, stay away from any debris.”
The US government has repeatedly warned Americans to leave Ukraine and not to travel there amid the ongoing war with Russia.
Prior to Wednesday's alert, the US Embassy had not issued a security alert since February 23, the day before the one year anniversary of the start of the war.