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Ludicrous claim: U.S. on Kremlin accusing Washington of drone attack

The United States dismissed Russia’s allegation made on Thursday by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov that Washington was behind what it said was a drone attack on the Kremlin, saying Moscow’s assertion was a lie.

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“Obviously it’s a ludicrous claim,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said hours after Russia blamed the United States for what it has called an attack aimed at killing President Vladimir Putin.

“The United States has nothing to do with it. We don’t even know exactly what happened here, but I can assure you the United States had no role in it whatsoever,” Kirby said on CNN.

Kirby said the United States does not encourage nor enable Ukraine to strike outside its borders, and does not endorse attacks on individual leaders. Ukraine has denied launching any drones on the Kremlin.

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Late in April “The Washington Post” published an article citing anonymous sources, according to which Ukraine had been preparing strikes within Russian territory, which it then “postponed” following U.S. intervention.

This claim was, however, later dismissed by Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, who said that whether intentionally or not such claims “fulfill only one catastrophic function: they shape public opinion in Western capitals as if Ukraine was an unreasonable, infantile, and impulsive country that is dangerous for adults to trust with serious weapons.”

Kremlin’s allegations

It was still unclear what exactly occurred at the Kremlin and the United States is still assessing the situation, Kirby said in television interviews Thursday morning.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the United States was “undoubtedly” behind the alleged attack on Wednesday, without providing evidence.

“Peskov is just lying there, pure and simple,” Kirby said.

Kirby added that Putin was “the aggressor” in Ukraine and could end the conflict by withdrawing from Ukraine’s territory he invaded in February 2022.

False flag

On May 3, the Institute for the Study of War released their “Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment” report, in which it casts doubt over the drone attack being anything else than an operation conducted by the Russians themselves.

“Russia likely staged this attack in an attempt to bring the war home to a Russian domestic audience and set conditions for a wider societal mobilization,” ISW said.

ISW says that there are several indicators that the attack was staged.

Firstly, Russia has significantly boosted its air defense, including within the capital itself, so the two drones being able to penetrate several rings of air defenses would be highly unlikely. Furthermore, a strike that avoided detection would be “a significant embarrassment”.

Instead, the Kremlin was quick to publicize the incident and presented a “rapid and coherent presentation of an official Russian narrative” of what supposedly happened.

“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,” ISW writes.

“The Kremlin has notably failed to generate a timely and coherent informational response to other military humiliations not of its own making,” ISW points out, citing the falls of Balakliya and Kherson in November last year.

The Institute believes “that Russia staged this incident in close proximity to the May 9th Victory Day holiday in order to frame the war as existential to its domestic audience”, with the purpose of a “wider societal mobilization”.

It also speculates that the strike so close to Victory Day, traditionally accompanied by a grand military parade on the Red Square, could be used to “justify either canceling or further limiting May 9th celebrations, actions that would likely augment the information effort framing the war in Ukraine as directly threatening Russian observance of revered historical events.”

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Russia has already cancelled Victory Day parades in several cities citing security reasons, but analysts believe that this was done due to shortage of military equipment that is needed in Ukraine.

ISW also said that the Kremlin “may be planning to conduct other false flag operations and increase disinformation ahead of a Ukrainian counteroffensive”.

It quotes the Ukrainian Resistance Center, which on May 2 reported that Russian forces in Bryansk and Kursk Regions of Russia “received Ukrainian uniforms in order to conduct a false flag operation in border areas”.

The Russian side has also disseminated a false narrative that Ukraine is preparing a provocation against Transistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, between May 9 and 15.

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