Former Russian lawmaker claims partisan group behind Kremlin drone attack

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, reports citing CNN.

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. 

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