Tuesday’s drone attack on Moscow has been exposed flagrant cracks in their air defenses and highlighted the capital’s vulnerability as more Russian soil is targeted amid expectations of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The attack, which resulted in minor damage to three apartment buildings, infuriated Russian hawks, who have sharply criticized President Vladimir Putin and the military leadership for failing to protect the Kremlin’s power heart more than 500 kilometers from the line. forehead.
Five of the eight drones that took part in the raid were shot down, according to the defense ministry, while three others were intercepted and forced to deviate from their course. Some Russian media and bloggers claimed that more drones were involved, but those claims could not be verified.
The attack came after a drone struck the Kremlin on May 3, slightly damaging the roof of the building, which includes one of Putin’s official residences. More drones have crashed near Moscow in what Russian authorities described as failed Ukrainian attempts to attack the city and infrastructure facilities in the suburbs.
Last week, the Russian border region of Belgorod was the subject of one of the most serious cross-border raids since the beginning of the war, claimed by two far-right pro-Ukrainian paramilitary groups.
Authorities in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, near annexed Crimea, said two drones attacked the city on Friday, damaging residential buildings. The attacks have also prompted hardening of Russia’s borders.
Ukrainian authorities welcomed Tuesday’s drone attack but, as usual, avoided claiming responsibility, a response similar to that given after previous attacks on Russian soil.
In a sarcastic tweet, Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that “even AI is already smarter and more forward-thinking than Russia’s military and political leaders.”
The Russian military has been shelling the Ukrainian capital Kiev and other cities with cruise missiles and explosive drones for the past three nights, a significant increase in such attacks that have been launched regularly since October. The Ukrainian military said it shot down most of the missiles and was reserved in reporting the damage caused by the attacks.
Putin described the attack on Moscow as a Ukrainian attempt to intimidate its residents. He said Moscow’s air defenses worked as expected, but admitted that protecting a large city is a tall order.
“It is clear what needs to be done to strengthen the air defenses and we will do it,” he added.
Military observers said the drones used in the attack were relatively crude and cheap, but could have a range of up to 1,000 kilometres. AND they predicted that there may be more.
Some of the drones seen flying towards Moscow were Ukrainian-made UJ-22s capable of carrying explosives; others spotted in the skies near Moscow were similarly small vehicles.
Mark Cancian, senior adviser to the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that part of the reason the drones have been able to reach Moscow undetected is that Russia’s air defenses are primarily focused on repel attacks with more sophisticated weapons.
“They are targeting missiles, ballistic missiles, regional missiles, aircraft, bombers, but not short-range drones, which can fly very low above the ground,” Cancian said. The Associated Press. “Russian air defense was not designed to do that.”
The Russian military is likely to withdraw some of its air defense assets from the front line to help protect Moscow, Cancian said, a move that would weaken Russian troops in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“This is good for the Ukrainians in the sense that these systems are being pulled from other areas where they could perhaps be used by front-line units,” he said.
The Kremlin’s weak response to the attack angered some hardline commentators and military bloggers in Moscow, who had criticized the Russian leadership for failing to deliver a stronger response.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the maverick millionaire who runs private military contractor Wagner, who has a key role on the battlefield in Ukraine, he berated Russian military leaders as “scum” and “pigs” for failing to protect Moscow.
“You, the defense ministry, have done nothing to launch an offensive,” Prigozhin said in a statement released by his office. “How dare they allow drones to reach Moscow?”
Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Chechnya province which has sent forces from the region to fight in Ukraine, has urged the Kremlin to declare martial law across the country and use all its resources in Ukraine “to wipe out this terrorist gang.” .
Vladimir Putin is calm
Some Kremlin observers said Putin’s calm reaction, which contrasted with angry remarks from Russian hawks, reflected his belief that the public would not be unnerved by the attack.
“Putin has repeatedly spoken of the extraordinary patience and persistence of the Russian people,” the Carnegie Foundation’s Tatiana Stanovaya said in a comment. “As provocative as another Ukrainian attack is, Putin does not believe it will cause public discontent with the government,” she added.
He noted that while downplaying the attacks makes the authorities appear “embarrassed and helpless,” such a stance is consistent with Putin’s course of prolonging the conflict.
James Nixey, Russia and Eurasia program director at Chatham House, said Tuesday’s attack indicated a growing Ukrainian determination to launch attacks inside Russia and he expected more to follow.
“It’s not the first or the last,” Nixey told the AP. “In many ways, the Ukrainians are flexing their muscles, seeing where they can strike back. It’s another part of the Ukrainian game to make sure they don’t just play defense, but can also play attack.”
Despite loud calls for revenge, the Russian military can’t do much more than it has since the beginning of the war, Nixey said.
“The reality is that Russia has limits on what it can do. It has limits on the number of troops, limits on its finances, limits on artillery ammunition, missiles, drones, everything,” he added. “They are already spending all their efforts, all their money, all their treasures, all their blood if you want to continue their war in Ukraine.”
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.