Briefly: Ukrainian President Zelensky has denied his country’s role in an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin early on Wednesday. For its part, Russia has claimed it was an assassination attempt against President Putin.
From pipeline explosions to intelligence leaks, we Intriguers have navigated our fair share of these international whodunnits. And in this instance, it’s hard to see how such a tiny explosion was part of any assassination attempt.
So, here are the main theories:
- 🇺🇦 Ukraine: a “performative strike” aimed at rattling or humiliating Moscow. Ukraine has used drones to strike targets close to Moscow before, but it usually claims (or hints at) responsibility. Not this time.
- ✊ Russian partisans: perhaps a similar motive. But as with the theory above, it’d be surprising for drones to breach a Kremlin protected by various layers of air defence, GPS spoofing and anti-drone rifles.
- 🇷🇺 Russia: a classic ‘false flag’ to justify further mobilisationin Russia. This would fit some of the curious details around the incident, but surely Moscow could’ve cooked up something less embarrassing to itself.
Intrigue’s take: Geopolitics is full of moments where we just have to say, “we don’t know”. This is one of those moments.
So it’s worth looking beyond the ‘who’ and the ‘why’, and focusing on any common thread across the theories. And we’d argue there’s one such thread: each theory reflects some kind of Russian weakness.
Also worth noting:
- A German teen once managed to land a small plane near the Kremlin. The defence minister ended up losing his job as a result.
- Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukrainian civilian areas in recent weeks.