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Russia may have organized attack on Kremlin to intensify mobilization

May 4, 2023

Russia could have organized the UAV strike against the Kremlin on May 3 on its own, trying to convey the importance of waging war against Ukraine to Russia's domestic audience, as well as to create conditions for a broader social mobilization.

This is the conclusion reached by analysts of the Institute for the Study of War in the latest report.


Thus, Russia expectedly blamed Ukraine for the drone "attack" on the Kremlin. At the same time, the Russian Federation probably organized the attack itself. Several indications suggest that the strikes were carried out by internal forces, and purposefully orchestrated, the publication said.

Russian authorities have recently taken steps to increase Russian domestic air defense capabilities, including within Moscow itself, and it is therefore extremely unlikely that two drones could have penetrated multiple layers of air defense and detonated or been shot down just over the heart of the Kremlin in a way that provided spectacular imagery caught nicely on camera.

Geolocation images from January 2023 show Russian authorities deploying Pantsir anti-aircraft missile systems near Moscow to create air defense circles around the city, experts point out.

A strike that avoided detection and destruction by such air defense assets and succeeded in hitting as high-profile of a target as the Kremlin Senate Palace would be a “significant embarrassment” for Russia. 

"The Kremlin’s immediate, coherent, and coordinated response to the incident suggests that the attack was internally prepared in such a way that its intended political effects outweigh its embarrassment," the report says.

In addition, the Kremlin may use such an "attack" to justify either the cancellation or further restriction of the May 9 celebration, which is likely to reinforce information work portraying the war against Ukraine as a direct threat to Russia's respect for "revered historical events”.

ISW has previously assessed that Russia is employing an array of measures to frame the war in Ukraine as existential to Russia’s domestic audience and to prepare for wider societal mobilization.

Author – Anastasiya Glotova, 04/05/2023

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