Attack on Kremlin: Who Is Behind It

What happened in Moscow the morning of May 3, 2023? Who is behind the drones' attack and what are the consequences. Little is still certain about the accident. However, the repercussions could be significant

The heart of the Russian political apparatus has been the target of two drone attacks this week. The anonymity of the attacker has sparked debates with both sides accusing one another of being involved in the event. Little is known about the accident. However, the repercussions could be more significant than one would desire.

What happened?

Moscow has become the target of attacks for the first time in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict after more than one year. The Kremlin, the site where the presidential offices are located, has been attacked in the early hours of the 3rd of May by two “unmanned aerial vehicles”. These have been intercepted by the Russian Air defence forces before being able to inflict any damage, as reported directly by the Kremlin.

Despite being the first attack aimed at Moscow, this is not the first episode in which drones have been used by both sides. For instance, Kyiv has attacked Russian oil facilities and energy infrastructure in numerous Ukrainian regions. A similar trend can be seen with Moscow, which has used drones to attack Ukrainian territories and civilians on several occasions since the beginning of the war.

Who is behind the attack?

The anonymity of the attacker has already led to accusations from both sides targeting not only the opponent but also foreign powers. An example is the blame put on Washington by Russian officials, who have accused the United States of having orchestrated the attacks.

Despite these accusations, however, Moscow has mainly blamed Ukraine. Russian officials, in fact, in a statement delivered by the Kremlin, have defined these drone strikes as a “Ukrainian terrorist attack aimed at killing Putin”. The claims have been firmly denied by Zelenskyy. He has argued that thinking that Kyiv attacked Moscow is a mistake, since, as stated by the Ukrainian presidential adviser Podolyaki, “sending drones to the Kremlin would not serve any military goals”. Moreover, Zelenskyy has further denied his involvement underlining that such attacks do not reflect his intentions as his goal is that of “freeing Ukraine” and not that of “hurting either Russian citizens or their president”.

Accuses have been moved towards Russian rebel groups and the government itself as well by many. The Russian official Ponomarev has told the CNN that the attacks must be attributed to Russian Partisans and that Putin is accusing Ukraine to create a feeling of unity and security among its population. A similar claim has been advanced by the Ukrainian government, which has accused Russian opposition groups of being behind the attack.

Finally, as reported by the Guardian, others such as the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), have argued that these attacks must be seen as a “false flag” event organized by the Russian government to create a pretext that can allow Putin to attack Kyiv openly. This idea has been supported by experts who have claimed that it would be difficult for Ukrainian drones not to be noticed thus, the attacks must have been shot from within Russia.

What are the consequences?

The way in which the current conflict will unravel following the event and, the impact that this will have on the war are not certain yet. However, many believe that the strikes will have serious consequences and will worsen the relationship between the two opponents. For instance, the Qatari Foreign Minister Al-Thani has publicly shared his concern that the targeting of the Kremlin will result in a “prolongation and intensification of the current crisis”.

The claims advanced by the supporters of this thesis are reasonable seen Moscow’s behaviour. Russian officials have reportedly called already for tough action as a response to this attack on their territory and, a wave of missiles has already been launched at Kyiv and Odesa following the event. As claimed by the BBC, these contained messages such as “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin”.

Due to the proximity of the event, the consequences of the attacks are still unknow, however, seen the Russian response, its use as a pretext for a rapid escalation is certainly not off the table.

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