Thursday, May 04, 2023

Kremlin drone shoot-downs look like amateurish disinformation

Russia is claiming that Ukrainian drones have attacked the Kremlin in Moscow in recent days, providing some unauthenticated video to show brave Russian aerial defenders shooting down the dastardly attempt on the life of Our Glorious Leader Vladimir Putin. Russia is describing it as "a planned terrorist attack and an assassination attempt on the President" that it was lucky enough to foil at the very last second. Just for good measure, Russia is also claiming that the United States was almost certainly behind it.

Putin wasn't there anyway at the time (it was the middle of the night), and even if he was on one of his rare visits to the Kremlin, he would almost certainly have been in the strongly protected bunker below the main building, in no danger from an aerial drone attack.

President Zelenskyy has, reasonably enough, pointed put that Ukraine does not have spare long-distance drones to send on such low-probability attacks; they are much too busy trying to defend their own territory and people from Russia's constant barrage of illegal attacks on their civilian population and infrastructure. It suggests that this was a "false flag operation", possibly to provide a pretext for even larger "retaliatory" attacks on Ukraine in the coming days, i.e. a justification for Russia's own attacks on civilian targets, and maybe even an escalation thereof. 

The official American response reiterates that "the United States was not involved in any way", and warns that Russian claims should be always taken with a "very large shaker of salt". Most other Western commentators agree that it is more likely to be a Russian fabrication. Certainly, it seems strange that Ukrainian drones were allowed to travel so far, and only to be shot down right above the Kremlin, just in time to be caught on an amateur video that just happened to be filming the building in the middle of the night.

It kind of makes you wonder, though, why Russia thought it necessary to go through this kind of exculpatory justification exercise when they have been carrying out illegal strikes in Ukraine for the last 15 months. They are unlikely to suddenly get world public opinion on their side now, and they have never seemed concerned about this in the past. It just looks like a rather desperate and amateurish attempt at self-justification.

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