Vladimir Putin’s car was “attacked” in what may have been an assassination attempt amid the Ukraine war, according to an unconfirmed claim.
The Kremlin leader ‘s limousine was allegedly hit by a “loud bang” on its left front wheel followed by heavy smoke.
Putin was unharmed as his car drove to safety but there have been multiple arrests from his security service.
Other bodyguards have vanished amid claims that secret information about the 69-year-old ruler’s movements was compromised, according to General SVR Telegram channel.
According to the anti-Kremlin channel, Putin was travelling back to his official residence on an unspecified date in a decoy or “backup” motorcade amid deep security fears.
This comprised five armoured cars, with Putin in the third, according to the claim.
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“On the way to the residence, a few kilometres away, the first escort car was blocked by an ambulance, [and] the second escort car drove around without stopping [due to the] sudden obstacle, and during the detour of the obstacle.
In Putin’s car “a loud bang sounded from the left front wheel followed by heavy smoke”.
Putin’s car “despite the problems with control” made its way out of the attack scene to reach the safety of the residence.
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“Subsequently, the body of a man was found driving [the] ambulance, which blocked the first car from the motorcade,” said SVR General.
The channel – which boasts an inside track to the Kremlin yet provides no hard evidence for its allegations – said details of the supposed attack are “classified”.
“The head of the president’s bodyguard [service] and several other people have been suspended and are in custody,” claimed the channel, without naming anyone.
“A narrow circle of people knew about the movement of the president in this cortege, and all of them were from the presidential security service.
“After the incident, three of them disappeared. These were exactly the people who were in the first car of the motorcade.
“Their fate is currently unknown. The car on which they were traveling was found empty a few kilometres from the incident.”
Crimea Bridge Attack: Zelenskyy attracts the full wrath of Putin
Meanwhile, on Monday, Russia rained cruise missiles on busy Ukrainian cities in what the United States called “horrific strikes”, killing civilians and knocking out power and heat with its most widespread air attacks since the start of the war.
Missiles tore into intersections, parks and tourist sites in the capital Kyiv and explosions were reported in Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in western Ukraine, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in the centre, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Kharkiv in the east.
Ukrainian officials said at least 11 people were killed and scores injured and suspended electricity exports to Europe while it tried to end blackouts across the country.
Thousands of residents raced to bomb shelters as air raid sirens rang out through the day. The barrage of dozens of cruise missiles fired from air, land and sea was the biggest wave of air strikes to hit away from the front line, at least since the initial volleys on the war’s first day, Feb. 24.
President Vladimir Putin said he had ordered “massive” long range strikes after an attack on the bridge linking Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula over the weekend, and threatened more strikes in future if Ukraine hits Russian territory.
“To leave such acts without a response is simply impossible,” he said, alleging other, unspecified attacks on Russian energy infrastructure.
Ukrainian military intelligence said the Russian attacks were ordered in early October. “The objects of critical civil infrastructure and the central areas of densely populated Ukrainian cities were identified as targets,” it said.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said they were deliberately timed to kill people and knock out Ukraine’s power grid. His prime minister said 11 major infrastructure targets were hit in eight regions, leaving parts of the country with no electricity, water or heat.
“They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” Zelenskiy said.
The body of a man in jeans lay in a street at a major Kyiv intersection, surrounded by flaming cars. In a park, a soldier cut through the clothes of a woman who lay in the grass to try to treat her wounds. Two other women were bleeding nearby.
“These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose. They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.
The Kremlin was humiliated two days ago when a blast damaged the bridge it built after seizing Crimea in 2014. Ukraine, which views the bridge as a military target sustaining Russia’s war effort, celebrated the blast without claiming responsibility.
With troops suffering weeks of setbacks on the battlefield, Russian authorities have been facing the first sustained public criticism at home of the war, with commentators on state television demanding ever tougher measures.
Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. army forces in Europe, said the scale of the strikes suggested Russia’s plan to escalate may have been drawn up before the bridge was attacked.
On Saturday, Russia’s Defence Ministry named General Sergei Surovikin, who won acclaim in Syria, as commander of Russian forces in Ukraine. A Russian air campaign in Syria helped the government crush its enemies.
Russia’s President Putin holds meeting with Security Council in Saint Petersburg
What Really Happened?
On Saturday, 8th October, an explosion caused the partial collapse of a bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, damaging an important supply artery for the Kremlin’s faltering war effort in southern Ukraine and hitting a towering symbol of Russian power in the region.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which killed three people. The speaker of the Russian-backed regional parliament in Crimea accused Ukraine, but Moscow didn’t apportion blame. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly threatened to strike the bridge, and some lauded the destruction on Saturday. But Kyiv stopped short of claiming responsibility.
The explosion, which Russian authorities said was caused by a truck bomb, risked a sharp escalation in Russia’s eight-month war, with some Russian lawmakers calling for President Vladimir Putin to declare a “counterterrorism operation,” shedding the term “special military operation” that had downplayed the scope of fighting to ordinary Russians.
Putin had signed a decree tightening security for the bridge and for energy infrastructure between Crimea and Russia, and put Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, in charge of the effort.
Hours after the explosion, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that the air force chief, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, would now command all Russian troops in Ukraine. Surovikin, who this summer was placed in charge of troops in southern Ukraine, had led Russian forces in Syria and was accused of overseeing a bombardment that destroyed much of Aleppo.
The 19-kilometer (12-mile) Kerch Bridge, on a strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, is a symbol of Moscow’s claims on Crimea and an essential link to the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The $3.6 billion bridge, the longest in Europe, is vital to sustaining Russia’s military operations in southern Ukraine. Putin himself presided over the bridge’s opening in 2018.
The attack on it “will have a further sapping effort on Russian morale, (and) will give an extra boost to Ukraine’s,” said James Nixey of Chatham House, a think tank in London. “Conceivably the Russians can rebuild it, but they can’t defend it while losing a war.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a video address, indirectly acknowledged the bridge attack but did not address its cause.
“Today was not a bad day and mostly sunny on our state’s territory,” he said. “Unfortunately, it was cloudy in Crimea. Although it was also warm.”
Zelenskyy said Ukraine wants a future “without occupiers. Throughout our territory, in particular in Crimea.”
Zelenskyy also said Ukrainian forces advanced or held the line in the east and south, but acknowledged “very, very difficult, very tough fighting” around the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russian forces have claimed recent gains.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said a truck bomb caused seven railway cars carrying fuel to catch fire, resulting in the “partial collapse of two sections of the bridge.” A couple riding in a vehicle on the bridge were killed, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. It didn’t say who the third victim was.
All vehicles crossing the bridge are supposed to undergo state-of-the-art checks for explosives. The truck that exploded was owned by a resident of the Krasnodar region in southern Russia, the Investigative Committee said, adding that the man’s home was searched and experts were looking at the truck’s route.
Train and automobile traffic over the bridge was temporarily suspended. Automobile traffic resumed Saturday afternoon on one of the two links that remained intact, with the flow alternating in each direction, said Crimea’s Russia-backed leader, Sergey Aksyonov.
Rail traffic was resuming slowly. Two passenger trains left the Crimean cities of Sevastopol and Simferopol and headed toward the bridge Saturday evening. Passenger ferry links between Crimea and the Russian mainland were being relaunched Sunday.
While Russia seized areas north of Crimea early in its invasion of Ukraine and built a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim that territory.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its troops in the south were receiving necessary supplies through that corridor and by sea.
Russian war bloggers responded to the bridge attack with fury, urging Moscow to retaliate by striking Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Putin ordered the creation of a government panel to deal with the emergency. Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Russian Communist Party, said the “terror attack” should serve as a wake-up call. “The special operation must be turned into a counterterrorist operation,” he declared.
Rain of Bombs
Monday’s blasts tore a huge crater next to a children’s playground in one of central Kyiv’s busiest parks. The remains of an apparent missile were buried, smoking in the mud.
More volleys of missiles struck the capital again later in the morning. Pedestrians huddled for shelter at the entrance of Metro stations and inside parking garages.
“This constitutes another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians are paying the highest price,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, while its aid organization and others said their aid work in Ukraine had been disrupted.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the strikes “horrific” and he and Biden reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said in its evening update Russia had staged at least 84 missile and air strikes, and Ukraine’s air defences had destroyed 43 cruise missiles and 13 drones. Russia’s defence ministry said it had hit all its intended targets.
Security camera footage showed shrapnel and flames engulfing a glass-bottomed footbridge across a wooded valley in Kyiv’s centre, one of its most popular tourist sites. One pedestrian could be seen running from the blast. Reuters later saw a crater below the bridge which was damaged but still standing.
Zelenskiy said the strikes targeted energy infrastructure and people.
“Such a time and such targets were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible,” he said in a video message filmed on a mobile phone on an empty central Kyiv street.
Prime Minister Denys Shmygal promised to restore utilities as quickly as possible. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Putin is a terrorist who talks with missiles.”
In another sign of possible escalation, Putin’s closest ally, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, said he had ordered troops to deploy jointly with Russian forces near Ukraine, which he accused of planning attacks on Belarus with its Western backers. Russia used Belarus as a staging ground early in the war but Lukashenko has not sent in his troops.
Within Russia, the strikes were cheered by hawks. Ramzan Kadyrov, the staunchly pro-Kremlin leader of Russia’s Chechnya region who had recently demanded that military commanders be sacked, wrote: “Now I am 100% satisfied with how the special military operation is being conducted.”
“We warned you Zelensky, that Russia hasn’t even got started yet, so stop complaining … and run!”
Russia has faced several setbacks since early September, with Ukrainian forces bursting through front lines and recapturing territory. Putin responded by ordering a mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists, proclaiming the annexation of occupied territory and threatening repeatedly to use nuclear weapons.
Later, the UN General Assembly announced that it would meet on Monday, October 10, 2022, hours after Russia launched the barrage of missile strikes at cities across Ukraine.
The international community would be in “a very, very bad place,” the Swedish diplomat told reporters, “unless the UN system and the international community through the General Assembly react to this kind of illegal attempt.”
A failure by the General Assembly to act would give “carte blanche to other countries to do likewise or to give recognition to what Russia has done,” he added.
A resolution draft seen by AFP condemns Russia’s “attempted illegal annexations” of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson following “so-called referendums,” and it stresses these actions have “no validity under international law.”
It calls on all states, international organisations and agencies not to recognise the annexations, and demands the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.
In response to the resolution, Russia had written to all member states in a letter attacking “Western delegations” whose actions “have nothing to do with protection of international law and the principles of the UN Charter.”
“They only pursue their own geopolitical objectives,” said the letter, signed by Russian Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia.
Nebenzia said that given the circumstances, the General Assembly should vote by secret ballot — a highly unusual procedure normally reserved for matters like electing the rotating members of the security council.
Meanwhile, Germany’s foreign Minister has said that the building housing its consulate in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, was hit during Russian missile attacks on the city.
According to Germany’s Foreign Ministry, on Monday in a briefing said the bombed consulate had not been in use since the war started in Ukraine.
This came in the wake of the appointment of a former general, considered to be brutal, as the new commander of Russian troops by President Vladimir Putin, after the sacking of another general and some recorded losses in the ongoing war.
A former head of the Böll Foundation in Kyiv, Sergei Sumlenny, posted photos on Twitter and said, addressing Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock:
“The building where the visa office of the German embassy in Kiev was located was hit by the Russians today. Maybe some ‘Leopards’ can be sent to check the situation on the ground?”
Also, the government of Moldova has accused Russia of airspace violations during missile launches on Ukrainian positions from ships in the Black Sea.
Three cruise missiles were fired from Russian ships that crossed Moldovan airspace, Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu wrote on Twitter.
The Russian ambassador to Moldova had been summoned in response.
The government of Moldova, a small country, once again condemned Russian aggression against its neighbour.
A landlocked country in Eastern Europe, it is bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south.
Ukrainians are the second largest ethnic group in Moldova after ethnic Moldovans.
Both countries were former republics of the Soviet Union and are also the poorest countries in Europe.
Finally, French President, Emmanuel Macron have asked Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to stop his war with Ukraine to avoid the occurrence of another world war.
Macron, who stated this in a series of tweets on Thursday, claimed that his government is helping Ukraine to defend its sovereignty against Russian invasion.
“We do not want a world war. We are helping Ukraine to resist on its soil, never to attack Russia. Vladimir Putin must stop this war and respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” the president said.
He further stated that France would continue arms deliveries to Ukraine as announced.
The assistance includes “CAESAR howitzers to conduct the counter-offensive, radars, systems, and missiles to protect from air attacks, armoured vehicles, and training.”
He pledged France would “continue to support the Ukrainian resistance and boost our military assistance.”
Macron also said he is ready to speak with the Russian president at any time.
“Any time it is necessary, I will talk to Vladimir Putin and at some point, I hope as soon as possible, all parties will return to a negotiating table and there will be peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia,” he said.