MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin guard service said on Friday that two helicopters spotted by residents taking off near Moscow’s Red Square in broad daylight carrying armed figures on a platform was just part of a routine drill.
The surreal spectacle prompted discussion online as to whether the Kremlin’s security forces were practising for the evacuation of President Vladimir Putin or the rapid deployment of combat forces within the city.
The Federal Protective Service, whose officers guard the Kremlin and are responsible for security for Putin and other top officials, played down the incident.
“Nothing unusual happened, planned autumn drills were held as they always are in recent years,” the Federal Protective Service was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the drills amounted to “nothing extraordinary” and that it was natural that they should be carried out at a state protected facility that also serves as an official presidential residence.
The helicopters took off from a helipad behind the Kremlin walls and could be seen flying above central Moscow in footage shared by Muscovites on social media on Thursday.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)