Russia: How dare the country we invaded attack our capital?

Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The Putin regime calls this a “terrorist” act. That’s a funny way to describe an alleged attempt to attack the military offices in the capital of a country that invaded the country of the supposed “terrorists.” An alleged drone attack on the Kremlin by Ukrainian forces would be an act of war — a war that Russia started, and from which it is hardly immune.

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That is, if it happened at all:

Russian authorities accused Ukraine on Wednesday of attempting to attack the Kremlin with two drones overnight.

The Kremlin decried the alleged attack attempt as a “terrorist act” and said Russian military and security forces disabled the drones before they could strike.

In a statement carried by Russian state-run news agencies, it said no casualties took place.

The Washington Post reports that the Russians later clarified that the attack was aimed at Vladimir Putin personally:

Russia on Wednesday accused Ukraine of staging a drone attack intended to hit the Kremlin residence and kill President Vladimir Putin, an electric allegation that could create justification for Russia to escalate its war in Ukraine.

The alleged assassination attempt, which could not be independently confirmed, was made in a statement shared by the Kremlin press service with Russian state news agencies on Wednesday afternoon. “Tonight, the Kyiv regime attempted a drone strike on the Kremlin residence of the President of the Russian Federation. Two drones were aimed at the Kremlin,” the statement said.

“We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the life of the president of the Russian Federation, carried out on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 parade,” the Kremlin said, adding that Putin was not in the building at the time of the alleged attack.

Color me … skeptical. It’s certainly possible that Ukrainian drone operators and special forces got close enough to the Kremlin to launch some sort of lethal drone attack on the hardened facilities there, but still rather unlikely. Right now, Ukraine needs its drones to deal with the Russian invaders in its own country, and any use outside of it would be better applied to supply line facilities, such as in Belgorod. John wrote last night about operations in the border areas of Russia that have had both military and morale impacts on Ukraine’s enemy, showing that attacks there would do more to support Ukrainian forces. Those likely do a lot more damage than an attack on a site whose fortifications were designed to survive a nuclear attack. Saboteurs would do better at the Kremlin with a truck filled with ammonium nitrate than with the kind of drones they could expect to operate close to the Russian capital.

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Look at these videos and ask yourselves, “Is this a serious attack on a fortified position, or is it theater?”

Are we even sure the videos are real?

But even if this claim is on the level, it’s not a “terrorist act.” The Kremlin is a legitimate military target, and Russia started the war by invading Ukraine. Putin himself is a legitimate target of the war that Putin started. If they don’t like their military installations or tsar coming under attack, maybe Vladimir Putin should refrain from invading his neighbors … or at least do so more competently than he has. If targeting the Kremlin is a “terrorist act,” then Putin’s the most virulent terrorist in the world by his constant bombardment of civilian populations and structures in Ukraine, and his genocidal ethnic cleansing. (That’s true even without a drone attack on the Kremlin, of course.)

As far as a pretext to escalate … meh. This smells like an attempt to rally the population back to the war effort, which after fifteen months of stalemate must be seriously flagging. John also noted that the Kremlin has begun to shape the media battlefield for bad news once the Ukrainians kick off their long-awaited spring offensive. ISW also picked up on the Meduza reports about Putin’s recent propaganda efforts in attempting to remind his subjects that this is a war with NATO rather than a brutal invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s Slavicide. The Kremlin is clearly expecting bad news:

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The alleged document suggests the Kremlin is preparing for – if not expecting – Ukrainian successes and is planning to mitigate demoralization in the Russian information space. This is an important Russian adaptation from previous Ukrainian counteroffensives in Kherson and Kharkiv, which produced dramatic shocks and demoralization in both the Russian military and the Russian information space that the Kremlin likely seeks to mitigate.

What better way to contextualize that argument than with a supposed attack on the Kremlin and Putin? If Russia could escalate their war effort, they would have done so already. They’re doing this because Russia can’t escalate without going nuclear, and going nuclear would be too costly for Russia. And let’s not forget the very pointed message coming from Beijing, in Xi Jinping’s lengthy phone call to Volodymyr Zelensky last week. Nuclear escalation would likely lose Putin his China shield, with Xi apparently growing tired of the situation and wanting it resolved.

Hence, the Russians are escalating the propaganda to get more cannon fodder on the front lines in the hope that they can outlast Ukrainian forces. Ukrainians are fighting for their lives and their home, though, while Russians are fighting for Putin’s ego and the wealth of oligarchs. I know where I’d bet on which side outlasts the other.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024
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