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Russia Claims Drone Attack on Kremlin was Ukrainian Attempt to Assassinate Russian President Putin
Russian leaders call for assassination of Zelensky and nuclear retaliatory strike on Ukraine following what may be a false flag operation to justify a major escalation in response to counteroffensive
Picture of the first drone being intercepted above the Kremlin this morning
(Editor’s Note 5-5-23—This article has been updated with additional analysis of the likely reasons for the Russian false flag attack and Russia’s likely next move. Yesterday, Russia alleged that the U.S. masterminded the alleged Ukrainian drone assassination attempt against Putin. U.S. leaders would never attempt to kill Putin even by proxy because they know it would be a nuclear redline for Russia. If the Kremlin truly believed they did, they would respond with missile strikes against the White House, an assassination attempt against Biden or more likely a nuclear strike against one or more U.S. targets. That said, Russia may be preparing to use cyberattacks and other non-kinetic means to disable all U.S. and NATO military and commercial satellites which it believes are being used to provide Ukraine with intelligence in support of their war effort. If the U.S. were to respond in kind, Russia could respond with a devastating comprehensive cyber-attack against the U.S. and NATO that could take down our electrical power grid, internet, GPS and early warning satellites seriously degrading our nuclear command control and communications (NC3) system. This would largely serve to blind us against follow-on attacks. If the U.S. responded with a direct military strike against Russian forces, Russia’s Chinese ally would likely join the war on the Russian side and stage an invasion of Taiwan within a matter of days or weeks at most.)
Over fourteen months after Russia began its illegal aggression against Ukraine, America and its allies are entering one of the most perilous times in our history. The war in Ukraine has served to greatly magnified the Russian threat and the longer it continues, the greater the danger the ongoing escalation spiral will culminate in a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia making it more critical than ever for the U.S. to take concerted action to end it diplomatically.
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Earlier this morning, in one of the most potentially explosive incidents since the war began, news reports surfaced showing videos of what appeared to be two drones being shot down just over the Kremlin, where top Russian leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin work. The drones seen in the videos were likely shot down by point-defense systems, like the Pantsir missile system, recently installed at key points in central Moscow. This attack came six days before Russia is scheduled to celebrate Victory Day on May 9th with a military parade commemorating the 78th anniversary of Russia’s triumphant military victory over Nazi Germany. A video shared to social media network Telegram shows what appears to be a drone or missile flying past a Russian flag atop a Kremlin building, then exploding just overhead. A second drone is visible in other photos distributed online, seeming to corroborate Russia’s official account of an attack by two drones on the Russian capital building.
Russian leaders responded swiftly, as if in unison, to denounce this attack as an attempted assassination attempt on the life of Putin which they stated must be met with the harshest possible Russian retaliation while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately denied Ukraine was responsible for the attack. Ukrainian drones were reported in the Moscow area before the attack indicating Ukraine may have had the capability to conduct such an attack to try to demonstrate that even Russia’s capital city of Moscow is vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes. Ukraine has been responsible for other previous strikes deep inside Russian territory including a couple of Russian nuclear bomber bases, one of which is located not far from Moscow.
My initial response to news of the drone attacks that I posted online at 7:39am this morning was that “Russia claims Ukraine used two drones to attack the Kremlin and try to assassinate Putin. This would serve as an ideal pretext for Putin to either destroy Ukraine's presidential Palace and kill Zelensky or else escalate to the tactical nuclear level.” Forty-five minutes later I added, “This seems like a false flag attack designed to justify a major pre-planned Russian escalation of the war.”
Some reports have quoted anonymous Ukrainians as saying they used modified Soviet-era Tu-141 surveillance aircraft in previous drone strikes against Russian bases. However, the drone pictured in the strike did not appear to be the large Tu-141 drone aircraft reportedly used in previous Ukrainian attacks. The likely payload on a drone as small as the one in the released videos suggest that such an attack would have been symbolic at best. Furthermore, Ukrainian intelligence is likely aware that Putin never sleeps at the Kremlin but rather stays at his presidential compound at Novo-Ogaryovo outside of Moscow as well as other presidential palaces and dachas across the country.
Accordingly, it seems clear that this drone attack, even if it were conducted by Ukraine could not have been intended as an assassination attempt, giving weight to my hypothesis that it may have been a Russian false flag attack. Combat drones fly at subsonic speeds with most traveling at a velocity substantially slower than cruise missiles, as shown in the video and are thus relatively easy to shoot down so I think the risks of such a potential Russian false flag attack against the Kremlin would be minimal given the fact it is a heavily fortified complex with walls up to 21 feet thick..
Earlier this afternoon, I saw this article in the UK Sun entitled “STRIKE BACK—Russia’s Ex-President Calls for Zelensky to be Killed After Claiming Ukraine Tried to Assassinate Putin in Drone Strikes.” As noted in the article:
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev - now a top Putin security official - called for the "elimination" of Zelensky. In a chilling statement, he said: "After today’s terrorist attack, there are no options left except for the physical elimination of Zelensky and his cabal. "It is not even needed to sign an act of unconditional surrender." And the Kremlin blasted the alleged strike as a "planned terrorist action" - and said it reserves the right to retaliate.
That and the threat of Russia employing tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine by the Speaker of the Russian Parliament in the quote below are the exact two scenarios I predicted this morning for which this apparent Russian false flag drone attack would serve as an extremely timely and convenient pretext.
The Speaker of the Russian parliament Vyacheslav Volodin - an intimate Putin ally - appeared to demand a nuclear strike on Ukraine. He raged: "An attack on the president is an attack on Russia. "There can be no negotiations. We will demand the use of weapons that are capable of stopping and destroying the Kyiv terrorist regime."
In what appeared to be an open threat to assassinate Zelensky, the Russian news agency TASS announced, “Ukraine attempted to attack the Kremlin in the early hours of Wednesday, using two drones. . . . The Kremlin said that the incident was considered to be an attempted assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia retains the right to respond in kind ‘whenever and wherever it sees fit.” Russian Duma member Alexei Zhuravlev declared: "It is necessary to target the centre of Kyiv. “Destroy the president's office, destroy to the ground the [Ukrainian parliament], the general staff, and the buildings housing the Ukrainian special services.”
There have been at least one other Russian false attack since the war began when some alleged Ukrainian “terrorists” engaged in a cross border raid that reportedly killed one woman and injured a child before retreating across the border. The one thing that has characterized all recent Russian false flag attacks is that they have inflicted little to no damage or casualties as was the case with the attack on the Kremlin this morning.
Why would Putin order such a false flag attack and risk damaging Russia’s most iconic government building in Moscow? The answer is that Russian leaders have long attached importance to the use of pretexts to help justify its wars. Such pretexts are considered useful by the Kremlin to help ensure the popular support of the Russian people while maintaining good relations with the 85% of the world’s nations that have not joined in on the Western economic sanctions regime and do not believe the Western narrative that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was entirely unprovoked.
It is highly significant that so many Russian leaders are calling for similar responses in retaliation for this claimed Ukrainian drone attack which would serve as an extremely timely and convenient pretext for a pre-planned low-yield Russian nuclear hypersonic missile or massive conventional military decapitation strike to take out Ukraine’s top political and military leaders in a single strike. It is possible that Russia will only conduct such drastic attacks if Ukraine begins its much-anticipated spring counteroffensive, which is expected to begin later this month or in June at the latest. It is also reasonable to assume that deterring Zelensky from commencing this military operation is likely the primary purpose of these very credible threats.
It is possible that this false flag attack could be used by Putin for a formal declaration of war against Ukraine during his Victory Day speech next week on May 9th as the prelude to a major escalation of the war. Putin has made clear he views the war not as a war between Russia and Ukraine but between Russia and the collective West with Ukraine as a US and NATO proxy. President Biden’s statements calling for Putin’s overthrow and extradition to be tried before a war crimes tribunal, saying he hoped U.S. economic sanctions would collapse the Russian economy and suggestions he would send U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine and use weapons of mass destruction against Russia would seem to corroborate Putin’s assumption in this regard. We do not know for sure what major escalation of the war Putin is planning. It could include a massive Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region to occupy much more Ukrainian territory. It is even possible that we could see massive Russian cyberattacks or a super Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack including a low-yield nuclear demonstration attack over Kyiv designed to minimize Ukrainian civilian casualties. Such an attack would aim to terrorize Ukrainian leaders and citizens to force Ukraine's surrender while minimizing the risk of a direct U.S. military response.
Such a formal declaration of war against Ukraine by Putin at the Victory Day military parade would mark the end of Russia’s special military operation in which Putin has essentially forced the Russian military to fight with one hand tied behind its back. Such a development would mark a major turning point for Putin given the fact he has thus far been striving to avoid in the forlorn hope that Ukraine and the West would agree to a cease fire and armistice agreement ending Russia's special military operation. Russia stated in September that it had achieved most of the objectives of their special military operation and that the rest could be achieved diplomatically, which seems to explain why Russian troops have largely remained on the defensive over the past several months except for the Battle of Bakmut.
Putin’s refusal to escalate the war thus far has caused the conflict to turn into a prolonged war of attrition playing to Russia’s advantages given the fact Russia is thirty-five times larger than Ukraine with an economy eleven times bigger and over five times more people, tanks, combat aircraft and artillery systems as well as 8,000 more nuclear weapons. According to a Turkish newspaper as of a few months ago, over 150,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in action while Ukraine struggling to mobilize additional troops to fight Russia given that the vast majority of its military age men, ages 18-50, have already been mobilized. Given the fact that there isn’t a single country in the world that has been willing to send combat troops to defend Ukraine (not counting the Polish Volunteer Legions) the chances of ultimate Ukrainian military victory over Russia seem questionable at best.
His forbearance in the face of increasingly major Western provocations including major cyberattacks and third-party kinetic sabotage attacks on Russian military industrial targets including the Nordstream pipelines as well as targets deep inside Russia including Moscow has been surprising to say the least. His decision to withdraw from three out of eight Russian occupied Ukrainian oblasts in April 2022 in what Russia claimed was the first step in implementing a tentative peace agreement with Ukraine reached on March 31st in Istanbul caught many off guard. This, along with Putin’s refusal to employ the full might of the Russian military most notably its daunting cyber, super-Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and tactical nuclear weapons to swiftly compel Ukraine’s surrender would seem to rebut Western attempts to represent him as an irrational actor bent on conquering not only Ukraine but all the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe as well.
Dr. John Mearsheimer has concluded that the war in Ukraine has proven an unmitigated geopolitical disaster for the West causing Russia and China to align more closely together against us in a military alliance that overmatches us in virtually every area. The evidence is mounting that he may be correct. The Biden administration’s risky gamble to dangerously deplete the U.S. military of tens of thousands of its most modern weapon systems and over 4.4 million artillery and mortar shells, missiles and rockets have left it woefully unprepared to fight a great power war which would cause it to run out of long-range precision munitions within a week of fighting, at a time when a Chinese invasion of Taiwan appears increasingly imminent. Meanwhile, Western sanctions aimed at collapsing and bankrupting the Russian economy have backfired, causing it to expand by over twenty percent during the past year according to the IMF providing increased funding for their war effort while Biden’s decision to urge Ukraine to refuse to negotiate an end to the war with Moscow over the past year has caused the Ukraine’s GDP to contract by over thirty percent.
It seems Putin has tired of the West’s refusal to negotiate an end to the war over the past year and has decided to compel Ukraine to accept Russia’s peace terms by military force. I am not sure the West or Ukraine are ready to face what he may have in mind. On May 2nd, it was reported that the U.S. has deployed nuclear sensors all over Ukraine. This move suggests we may be much closer to nuclear Armageddon today than when Biden declared back in October that we have never been closer to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. But despite repeated statements he would do so, Biden has done little to nothing to provide Putin a face-saving diplomatic exit ramp to end the war. Russia may be about to make good on its threats back in September to defend its newly annexed territories from Ukrainian counterattacks by nuclear weapons if necessary. The Biden administration appears to have received intelligence late last month indicating Russia may be considering using a few of its 2,500 mostly sub-kiloton yield battlefield nuclear weapons, which emit zero radioactive fallout, in Ukraine, causing them to take this unprecedented action. The smallest Russian battlefield nuclear warheads have a very low 0.1 kiloton yield, which if detonated, would be very difficult to confirm without such sensors or WC-135 nuclear sniffing aircraft.
Following Russia’s false flag drone attack on the Kremlin, Putin arguably has a very strong pretext to employ them against Ukraine and the recent U.S. deployment of nuclear sensors all over Ukraine suggests he may be planning to do exactly that if Ukraine begins its counteroffensive. Russia will most likely wait to retaliate until after Putin address the nation at the Victory Day parade on May 9th. It is time that U.S. policymakers realize that the foremost U.S. national security interest in Ukraine should be averting an unnecessary nuclear war in Ukraine that could quickly spread to include the U.S. and NATO. It is imperative that the Biden administration act quickly to negotiate an immediate cease fire and armistice agreement along the current line of control to ensure the continued independence and security of 82% of Ukraine's internationally-recognized territory.
In other news, I have been scheduled to appear on America First conservative GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy's show on May 15th to discuss how to avoid war with China over Taiwan. I have also been asked to conduct a lunch briefing for him on national security matters pertaining to our proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. Vivek is the only GOP candidate other than Trump who has been surging in the polls over the past couple months and is now tied with former VP Mike Pence for third place in the latest CBS presidential primary poll. He is also the only presidential candidate with the courage to call for the entire abolition of the FBI so I am excited to meet with him. I remain hopeful that Vivek and other Republican presidential candidates will make the existential EMP threat to the U.S. a major issue of discussion during the presidential debates along with avoiding a direct war with Russia and China.
I was also invited to serve as a member of the Center for Security Policy’s renowned Committee on Present Danger-China this week. the Committee holds extremely informative webinars twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I strongly encourage all subscribers of “The Real War” newsletter to subscribe to the webinars by inputting your email at the top right of our website.
Recent Media Interviews:
May 2nd—Interview with Jason Preston on his “We are the People” show about corrupt Utah state leaders’ ties with Communist China and their strategy for co-opting state and local leaders to support their nefarious objectives to transform the U.S. into a colonial economy. I will post the link to this very comprehensive and wide-ranging interview as soon as it is available.
Upcoming Media Interviews:
May 4th—Worldview Weekend Hour hosted by Brannon Howse on Lindell TV discussing Russia’s false flag attack on the Kremlin which Putin likely intends to use to escalate the war against Ukraine in a very substantial way and my predictions for what he likely intends to do next.
May 8th—”Talk with Jon” hosted by Jon Twitchell to discuss the ramifications of the Russian false flag attack on the Kremlin, the reasons for the attack and Putin’s most likely next moves.
May 10th—American Journal hosted by Harrison Smith to talk about our new book “Catastrophe Now-America’s Last Chance to Prevent an EMP Disaster” and what a nuclear war with China or Russia would look like.
May 13th—Interview on the EMP Task Force podcast with Deputy Executive Director Jonathan Hollerman to discuss our new book “Catastrophe Now-America’s Last Chance to Prevent an EMP Disaster” and what steps U.S. leaders need to take to restore the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent and avoid war with the Sino-Russian military alliance.
May 15th—Interview on “The Vivek Show” with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy about the increasing threat of war with Communist China and North Korea and what US leaders need to do to prevent it.
© David T. Pyne 2023
David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and Headquarters staff officer, who was in charge of armaments cooperation with the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas from 2000-2003, with an M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He currently serves as Deputy Director of National Operations for the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and as a member of the Committee on the Present Danger-China. He recently co-authored the best-selling new book, “Catastrophe Now--America’s Last Chance to Avoid an EMP Disaster." He also serves as the Editor of “The Real War” newsletter at dpyne.substack.com and as a contributor to “The National Interest”. Here is a link to his interview archive. He may be reached at email@example.com.