Ukraine reveals that a drone flew over Putin’s woodland palace without detection by its heavy defenses.
Ukraine reportedly flew the drone over President Vladimir Putin’s Lake Valdai palace during an attack on a St Petersburg oil depot, according to a military source on Friday.
On Thursday, Ukrainian-produced drones ventured 775 miles into Russian airspace to strike an oil depot near St Petersburg, said Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s minister of strategic industries, as per the Kyiv Independent.
During the mission, one of the drones also flew over one of Putin’s palaces, an unnamed special services source told Ukrainian news agency RBC.
Situated near Lake Valdai, halfway between Moscow and St Petersburg, the vast woodland complex is considered one of Putin’s favorite retreats.
Investigative reporting by independent Russian outlet Proekt last year, not independently verified by Business Insider, claimed the palace is home to Putin’s rumored girlfriend Alina Kabayeva and their children.
Penetrating the palace’s airspace with a drone is exceptionally challenging due to heavy air defense systems.
After Proekt’s reporting last year, the protected zone around the palace was expanded, ostensibly for ecological reasons, according to The Moscow Times. Locals believed the expansion aimed primarily to protect the palace.
Responses to the drone attack on Petersburg oil terminal
Kamyshin reported one drone in the attack hit a target near St Petersburg, identified as Petersburg Oil Terminal in Ukrainian media. The target is a major Russian oil shipment terminal in the Baltic region.
Russia’s Defense Ministry reported thwarting the attack by shooting down a drone in Moscow and intercepting another near St Petersburg.
Popular pro-Russian Telegram channel Baza, known for generally unverifiable reporting, claimed that it shot down one drone directly over the terminal, causing a fire that burned over an area of 130 meters. There were no casualties, according to Baza.
Breakthrough in Ukraine’s drone arsenal
Ukraine highlighted the reach of its homegrown drone arsenal through this attack. Kamyshin emphasized that St Petersburg was now “within reach of Ukrainian forces.”
“We are able to produce something that flies and costs $350 per item, something that flew to St Petersburg this night,” he said.
Kamyshin spent recent days at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, showcasing Ukraine’s re-invigorated domestic military production. On Thursday, he claimed Ukraine’s first-ever success using what the Pentagon has termed “FrankenSAM” air defense systems.