Ukraine says it flew a drone over Putin's woodland palace, evading its heavy defenses

Ukraine says it flew a drone over Putin's woodland palace, evading its heavy defenses
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Ukraine launched a drone attack Thursday on a St. Petersburg oil terminal, multiple sources said.

  • One of the drones also flew over Putin's palace at Valdai, a military source told RBC.

  • Ukraine claimed one of the drones struck the terminal, but Russia said it foiled the attack.

Ukraine sent a drone flying over President Vladimir Putin's palace at Lake Valdai during an attack on a St. Petersburg oil depot, a military source claimed on Friday.

On Thursday, Ukraine sent Ukrainian-produced drones 775 miles into Russian airspace to strike an oil depot near St. Petersburg, Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine's minister of strategic industries, said, according to The Kyiv Independent.

En route, one of the drones also flew over one of Putin's palaces, an unnamed special-services source told the Ukrainian news agency RBC.

Set next to Lake Valdai, halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg, the vast woodland complex is considered one of Putin's favorite boltholes.

Investigative reporting by the independent Russian outlet Proekt last year — which Business Insider couldn't independently verify — said that it's home to Putin's rumored girlfriend, Alina Kabayeva, as well as the children they are said to have.

putin and Alina Kabaeva
Putin and Alina Kabayeva, his rumored girlfriend.Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

Sending a drone into the palace's airspace would be extraordinarily difficult — it's heavily protected by air-defense systems.

Following Proekt's reporting last year, the protected zone in which it sits was swiftly expanded, The Moscow Times reported. Officially, this was for ecological reasons, but disgruntled locals believed it was primarily to protect the palace, the outlet reported.

Drone footage shows spa at Lake Valdai palace
Drone footage shows a massive spa building at the Lake Valdai

Kamyshin said that one of the three drones reported in the attack went on to strike a target near St. Petersburg, identified in Ukrainian media as Petersburg Oil Terminal, one of the largest Russian oil-shipment terminals in the Baltic region.

Ukraine used aircraft-type drones in the attack, Russia's Defense Ministry said, adding that it stopped the assault.

The ministry said that Russian air-defense systems shot one drone down in the Moscow region and intercepted another in the Leningrad region, where St. Petersburg is the capital.

The popular pro-Russian Telegram channel Baza, whose reporting is generally unverifiable, said that one of the drones was shot down directly over the terminal, where its debris dropped between fuel tanks, causing a fire that burned over an area of 130 meters.

Baza said there were no casualties.

Ukraine has used the attack to emphasize the reach of its homegrown drone arsenal. The strike, Kamyshin said, showed that St. Petersburg was now "within reach of Ukrainian forces," according to The Kyiv Independent's translation.

"We are able to produce something that flies and costs $350 per item, something that flew to St. Petersburg this night," he said.

Kamyshin has spent recent days at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, extolling Ukraine's reinvigorated domestic military production.

On Thursday, he claimed Ukraine's first-ever success using what the Pentagon has termed "FrankenSAM" air-defense systems.

Read the original article on Business Insider