On May 3rd, 2023, Russian media reported a drone strike on the Kremlin the previous night—the center of power for Russia and Vladimir Putin. This attack has flabbergasted Russian media, parliamentarians, military personnel, and the global community.

The first attack on Moscow since the German invasion in 1942, Russia has become more vulnerable than ever in a war the majority of the world assumed they would win decisively. Though not claiming responsibility, Ukraine has enhanced its intelligence apparatus and defense industry to strike swaths of Russia, anyplace and anytime.

Russian troops marching during the Russian Victory Day Parade (Mark MacKinnon). Source: https://twitter.com/markmackinnon/status/1523613173928005632
Russian troops marched during the Russian Victory Day Parade (Mark MacKinnon). Source: https://twitter.com/markmackinnon/status/1523613173928005632

The Strike

The drone strike on the Kremlin occurred on the night of May 2nd, in which Russian media reported it as an “assassination attempt on Putin.” The drone that struck the Kremlin did minimal damage and could not penetrate the building with its payload. However, the strike has raised more questions than answers to both Russia and the international community.

Blatant finger-pointing is leaning towards Ukraine. It has stepped up its drone capabilities to hit strategic targets inside Russia, such as oil storage facilities, ammunition depots, and military bases like the brazen strike on the Engels Military Base.

More Symbolic than Strategic

Hitting the Kremlin with a small drone with minimal more of a psychological operation, wildly as nothing was penetrated and Putin wasn’t in the facility at the time. This month of May is Soviet Victory Day, in which Russia celebrates its triumph over Germany in World War Two, and annual celebrations are held throughout the nation.

Ukraine, which is in its spring counteroffensive’s final preparation stages, has amplified targets on Russian logistics in the occupied territories and Russia. This has caused panic in the Kremlin as Putin canceled several May 9th Victory Day parades in several oblasts and occupied territories, such as Crimea.

The attack shows the Russian general public how vulnerable they are and that even Kremlin officials aren’t safe. This was confirmed as the Russian military put a mobile air defense system on top of the defense ministry building. If Moscow even holds Victory Day celebrations, it’ll be of the highest security and potentially canceled if the strikes uptick.

Ukraine’s Intelligence, False Flag, or Internal Power Struggle?

What makes the attack special is that there is minimal chance of it being a false flag. As the Russian general public has seen the drone attack on television, it will be hard for Putin and his inner circle to sell it as a “false flag,” as the citizens will know the Kremlin lied. It will keep them thinking that perhaps what they’re being told about the war is a lie as well.