Drones and sabotage: Ukraine’s psychological war on Russia

Elizabeth Smith

A series of coordinated attacks with drones that hit Moscow last week were not random, but may actually have targeted the homes of senior Russian intelligence officials, according to a new report by an American television network, which cited informed sources and data from an open source research firm.

Drone attacks in Moscow

In the early morning hours of 30 May, a fleet of at least six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) struck what appeared to be residential apartment blocks in the south-eastern suburbs of Moscow.

The targets were all located in the Rublyovka area of Moscow. Which contains some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the Russian capital.

Many expressed surprise at the air assault. As it was the first known attack against residential targets in Moscow since the last phase of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022.

Ukraine trains saboteurs in Russia

According to CNN, Ukrainian intelligence is also training and arming saboteur cells inside Russia. Which are responsible for several acts of sabotage on Russian soil, including a recent attack on the Kremlin.

According to the report, pro-Ukrainian saboteurs may be responsible for a growing number of incidents involving mysterious explosions, fires, and malfunctions of Russia’s critical infrastructure.

In recent months, such incidents have caused severe damage to Russian military warehouses, energy pipelines, fuel depots and refineries, railway networks, and military enlistment offices.

The CNN report states that the UAV attack on the Kremlin, and possibly other similar incidents that have taken place inside Russia in recent months, are the result of months of efforts by the Ukrainian government training semi-autonomous sabotage cells inside Russia.

These cells consist of Ukrainian citizens operating undercover, as well as Russian citizens who sympathise with Ukraine. They also include Russians who militantly oppose the administration of President Vladimir Putin.

Well-trained and equipped cells

These cells have been ‘well trained’ in sabotage. And have been supplied with lethal hardware – including UAVs or UAV components – by the Ukrainian government, CNN said.

These provisions reach the saboteurs through “well-practised smuggling routes” that the Ukrainians have established across the Ukrainian-Russian border.

The latter is ‘vast and very difficult to control’, and has been so for decades, according to the report. In most cases, the weapons used in acts of sabotage operate from within Russia. Rather than from command centres in Ukraine, the CNN report states.

According to the report, the targets of the saboteurs from Russia were set by the highest levels of the Ukrainian government. Thus under the direct supervision of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

However, the officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) who manage, train, and arm the saboteurs deliberately gave them significant autonomy in terms of targeting and tactics. CNN said it had contacted the Ukrainian government for comment on this report.

The SBU did not confirm or deny that it was involved in the management of the saboteurs’ cells inside Russia. However, an SBU spokesman told CNN that the mysterious explosions and drone attacks inside Russia are going to continue.

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

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