Four Possibilities for the Kremlin Drone Attack

CleanShot 2023 05 03 at 19 45 31

‘…the most disturbing possibility is that this is a Russian government put-up job from start to finish. There are several reasons this makes more sense than other explanations.

First, an attack on the Kremlin would give Putin the rationalization he’s been seeking for some kind of dramatic and murderous action that might not make much military sense, but that would destabilize Ukraine and unsettle the world on the eve of a major Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Russians, I believe, are dreading this coming operation, and want to change the narrative at home and abroad. I have no idea what Putin has up his sleeve, but even on his better days, he is prone to strategically idiotic moves. He might try to drag Belarus into the war, he could make more nuclear threats, or he could even order redoubled efforts to kill Zelensky.

In any case, faking a drone attack would fit into the long-standing Russian affinity for “false flag” operations. Though conspiracy theorists in the United States often trumpet unfounded claims of false flags, professional intelligence services do conduct such operations, and Moscow has been particularly fond of them all the way back to the Soviet period. The series of apartment bombings in Russia in 1999, for example, that became the pretext for escalation in Chechnya, were almost certainly orchestrated by the secret services (a possibility so disturbing that I and other Russia experts were loath to accept it—but which is now, in my view, undeniable). And in the past year, the Russians warned that the Ukrainians were going to unleash a “dirty bomb,” a ludicrous claim that even led China to give the Kremlin some stink eye for playing around with nuclear threats.

This drone strike looks like the same play, only without nuclear materials. A terrorist attack in the capital would be a pretext for the Russians to warn the world that this time, they’re really going to take the gloves off. Ukrainian officials are worried that this is exactly the Russian plan. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, told the BBC that the incident indicated Russia could be “preparing a large-scale terrorist provocation” in Ukraine. That’s a pretty chilling possibility, considering that the Russian campaign plan at this point already consists of indiscriminate war crimes….’ (Tom Nichols, The Atlantic)