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Experts: Putin Might Have Staged Drone Attack on Kremlin

Russian Artillery Attack. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Moscow May Have Orchestrated the Kremlin Drone Strikes – According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russia may have staged the attempted drone strikes on the Kremlin on Wednesday, May 3, to bring home the reality of war to the people of Russia.

In an update, the U.S.-based think tank not only suggested that the drone strikes could have been orchestrated by Russia – but that they likely were a Russian false flag attack.

“Russia likely staged this attack in an attempt to bring the war home to a Russian domestic audience and set conditions for a wider societal mobilization,” a report from the think tank reads, adding that a multitude of indicators suggest that the strike was “internally conducted and purposefully staged.”

The think tank noted how Russian authorities recently took steps to increase Russia’s domestic air defense capabilities, including by installing missile systems in its capital city, Moscow. 

The chances of a drone strike succeeding in Moscow, therefore, are slim – and while the drone attacks were ultimately foiled, one video showed an unmanned aerial vehicle get just a handful of feet away from a Kremlin building’s roof. In the footage, the drone appears to be intercepted barely a second before it could have reached its intended target. 

According to the think tank, Russian authorities installed Pantsir air defense systems around the city of Moscow, making a breach of the city’s airspace a “significant embarrassment” for the Russian military and government. 

Researchers suggested that the Kremlin’s response to the strike also lends credibility to the theory that the strike was coordinated by Russia. The “immediate, coherent, and coordinated” response, the ISW says, indicates that the attack was prepared in a way that any embarrassment is outweighed by the political implication of the strike. 

Analysts also argue that the strike gave Russia an opportunity to escalate the conflict in Ukraine.

Writing for Reuters, reporter Andrew Osborn said that the attack on the Kremlin – which has no doubt been seen by most Russian civilians – “helped reinforce the Kremlin-backed narrative that its war in Ukraine is an existential one for the Russian state and people.”

Osborn cited former Russian diplomat Alexander Baunov who said that the strike was orchestrated by the Kremlin as an attempt to “rally people around this failed attack,” adding that it is a “patriotic mobilization” ahead of the May 9 WWII victory parade in Moscow’s Red Square. 

Russia Blames the United States

After initially blaming Ukraine for the strikes, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov shifted the blame to the United States on Thursday. Reiterating claims that the attempted drone strikes were intended to kill the Russian president, Peskov suggested that even if the drones came from Ukraine, the strikes were ordered by Washington, D.C.

“Attempts to disown this both in Kyiv and in Washington are, of course, absolutely ridiculous,” Peskov said. 

“We know very well that decisions on such actions and such terrorist attacks are made not in Kyiv but in Washington.” 

The comments prompted a response from U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, who accused Peskov of “lying” about the attack. Kirby told MSNBC on Thursday that there was “no involvement by the United States” and that whatever the attack ultimately was, it “didn’t involve us.” 

When asked by CNN on Thursday for his reaction to Peskov’s claims, Kirby said that the words he would like to use were “not appropriate to use on national TV.

“Obviously it’s a ludicrous claim,” he said, adding that the U.S. government neither encourages nor enables Ukraine to conduct strikes outside of its borders. 

Peskov refrained from speculating what a retaliation to the strikes may look like, but if analysts’ suggestion that the strikes were more of a mobilization effort to rally Russians around Putin’s war, there may be no specific retaliation at all. Peskov did, however, suggest that Russia would take “well-thought-out steps” in response to the strike that “meet the interests” of Russia. 

On Thursday, Russia directed a series of drone and missile strikes at the Ukrainian capital city for the third time in four days. The strikes may have been ordered in retaliation for the Kremlin drone strikes, though it’s also likely that they were expected to take place regardless.

If Russia planned the drone strikes and deliberately pinned them on Ukraine and the United States, it could be a sign of things to come. It could also ultimately fall flat, achieving little more than showing the people of Russia that invading a neighboring country brings with it the risk of being attacked in return. 

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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.