Multiple drone attacks in Russia, is this the beginning of the Ukrainian counteroffensive?

Elizabeth Smith

While waiting for the Ukrainian counteroffensive, drone warfare has broken out between Moscow and Kiev. For the first time since the beginning of the conflict, the Russian capital was also directly involved.

Several unmanned aircraft were launched towards the city and crashed into residential towers in what the Russian authorities called a ‘terrorist’ attack by Kiev.

Drone attacks in Russia, what are the Ukrainian and NATO positions

Ukraine has denied involvement. But at the same time it said it was ‘happy to watch and predict an increase in the number of attacks’. As presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak put it.

Kiev’s goal, Putin said, is ‘to terrorise the Russians’. But above all ‘to provoke a response from Russia. We will see what to do about it,” the president added.

Within the NATO coalition, reactions differed. The United States said it did not support attacks inside Russia. But claimed that Russia bears responsibility for the war with Ukraine.

“In general, we do not support attacks inside Russia. We are focused on providing Ukraine with the equipment and training it needs to regain its sovereign territory,” a State Department spokesman said during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Sweden

The US position on the drone warfare

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre also reiterated: ‘We are gathering information about what happened. We do not support attacks inside Russia’.

An opposite position to that given by British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who claimed ‘the legitimate right’ of Ukraine to ‘defend itself’ against Russia even ‘by projecting its force’ beyond its borders. Cleverly refused to engage in “speculation” about the drone attack carried out on Moscow.

Among other things, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be received next week at the White House by US President Joe Biden for a summit intended, according to Downing Street, to consolidate the axis between Washington and London on support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Moscow, despite Washington’s words, accuses the US and NATO as a whole of “hypocrisy”. Thus reserving “the right to take the most severe measures in response to the terrorist attacks in Kiev,” the Foreign Ministry warned.

Drone attacks in Russia, is the Ukrainian counteroffensive starting?

What is certain is that the attacks have had a strong emotional impact on Muscovites and Russians in general. This, by provoking new lunges against the military leadership from critics lining up on extremist positions.

“Why are you letting these drones reach Moscow?” asked Wagner’s group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. Thus addressing the defence leadership with the epithet ‘dirty bastards’.

Meanwhile, the Institute for the Study of War (Isw) explains in a report that Russia’s options for responding to the drone attack on Moscow are ‘limited’.

Analysts at the US think tank note that the Russian president’s emphasis on missile strikes by Russian forces – both recent and ongoing – “is probably an attempt to signal that Russia is already responding actively. And does not need to respond to further Ukrainian provocations”.

Instead, the Financial Time, in an expert analysis, speculates that with these ‘shaping operations’ such as drone strikes, Kiev is anticipating the counteroffensive.

Operations that ‘are part of standard military practice’ and whose purpose, say defence officials and analysts, is to deceive the enemy, intrude into its mindset and ‘shape’ the battlefield ahead of a major offensive

Read also: Ukraine’s preannounced counteroffensive: what are the goals and when it may start

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