Russia may have orchestrated a drone attack on the Kremlin in order to bring the war closer to the public and to set the stage for a wider mobilisation campaign, the Institute for the Study of War or ISW suggested in its update on the situation in Ukraine as of May 3.
ISW experts see two main indicators that Russia might in fact be behind the attack, which the Kremlin has blamed on Ukraine.
First, Russia has taken unprecedented air defense measures, especially for protecting Moscow and the Kremlin itself. The military placed Pantsir air defense systems in several circles around Moscow in January 2023, according to geolocated imagery. A drone has rather slim chances to fly through multiple layers of air defense, and in a way that would provide spectacular videos of an attack.
Second, the Moscow response was highly coordinated, which is atypical for the other military humiliations it has suffered in this war, but not those it has staged by its own. Typically, Russian officials scrambled to generate a coherent narrative even in such cases as the retreat from Kherson City or Balakliya in Kharkiv Oblast.
Russia may have staged this attack shortly before the May 9 Victory Day to present the war as existential for the Russian public, ISW experts said. The Kremlin could also use the incident as an excuse for denying or further restricting the official celebration.
In that case, Ukraine could be presented as a direct threat to Russia's commemoration of important historical events. This is a part of the plan to make the war important to ordinary Russians and justify a wider mobilisation.
There was a rise of calls for an escalation of the war in the response to the embarrassment of the attack on Kremlin, especially among Russian pro-war milbloggers. However, other Russian milbloggers with close Kremlin affiliations advocated against escalation, as the attack doesn't threat operational or strategic situation in the war.
Instead, they called for a cautious response, which also may indicate that Russia may have carried out a false flag attack to justify a further mobilisation campaign in Russia.
The Kremlin may plan other false flag attacks to spread disinformation worldwide ahead of the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive, and to gain more support within the country, the ISW warned.
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