Moscow drone attack: Has Ukraine finally taken the war to Russia?

Has Ukraine finally given Russia some payback, given the air strikes now being rained down on Kiev?

A first pass answer seems like it may well be.

According to the New York Times:

At least eight drones targeted Moscow early Tuesday, according to the Russian authorities, the first attack to hit civilian areas in the Russian capital and a potent sign that the war is increasingly reaching the heart of Russia.

The assault came after yet another overnight bombardment by Russian forces of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, which has faced a barrage of attacks in recent weeks that have put the city on edge and tested the country’s air defenses. Kyiv was attacked with at least 20 drones early Tuesday, leaving one person dead and unnerving exhausted residents.

The dueling strikes reflected the dialed-up tension and shifting priorities ahead of Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive. Ukraine has increasingly been reaching far into Russia-held territory, while Moscow has been adjusting its tactics in an effort to inflict significant damage on Kyiv.

Tuesday’s aerial assault on Moscow — in which at least three residential buildings sustained minor damage — comes weeks after a pair of explosions over the Kremlin, a bold strike aimed at President Vladimir V. Putin’s seat of power. U.S. officials said the attack was most likely orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units.

The Times says that U.S. officials think it was the Ukrainians who did it, but they are still investigating.

If so, that would signal some kind of escalation in the war. Moscow calls this a terror attack, which is bound to provoke guffaws, given its strike on Ukraine, but it does seem to be the wild act of a cornered state that has lost its army, is running out of troops, and now needs to resort to desperate tactics. A resort to terrorism, or assassinations, or wild unpredictable acts is sometimes what such states may do, but the word 'terrorism' doesn't seem right to everyone, to say the least.



It also would signal that the U.S., which is already neck-deep in financing and training troops in this conflict, is now about to be drawn deeper into it, particularly if the Russians can prove that the attacker was Ukraine. Was that the plan, or was that Ukraine becoming a Frankenstein's monster? The U.S. failure to plan, and to hold aid to Ukraine accountable by any standard is obviously an invitation for out-of-control events like this.

But Ukrainian officials and their allies insist it wasn't Ukraine doing it, it was Russia, some citing strategic advantage:



Some citing recent history, in reference to allegations by murdered journalist Anna Politovskaya that Vladimir Putin blew up a Moscow apartment building to build public support for his Chechen war.



A third theory, noted by Stephen Green at PJMedia, albeit not endorsed, is that it was the work of a new Wagner group wannabe.

Much of the chatter was generated by this audio clip of Wagner mercenary organization chief Yevgeny Prigozhin absolutely going off on the Russian military for allowing the attack.

“You a**holes, get your a**es out of the offices you were put in to defend this country,” was one of Prigozhin’s nicer statements.




Here’s the clip — and an accompanying conspiracy theory — courtesy of milblogger “Tendar.”

And there is something to be said for all three theories.

For the Ukraine-did-it camp, there's a need to win somehow, anyhow, with an army largely decimated and a much larger neighbor. That the U.S. has supplied it with effectively unlimited firepower and no accountability makes a situation like this ready-made for escalated conflict.

For the Putin-did-it-camp, the shock that it happened in a ritzy neighborhood has brought up 1812 and 1941 talk on the Internet and in Russian state propaganda. Could it have been a bid to rally flagging Russian support for the war?

For the one-two-many-Wagners camp, the fact that Putin is under fire and his grip on power slipping, may have created a power void with many emerging characters vying for power.

Whatever it is, it's the fog of war, with truth the first casualty. There's obviously an escalation, but there's little to do now but to watch and wait.





Image: Twitter screen shot

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