A Point-By-Point Debunking Of The ISW’s False Flag Conspiracy Theory About The Kremlin Attack

A Point-By-Point Debunking Of The ISW’s False Flag Conspiracy Theory About The Kremlin Attack

By Andrew Korybko

The “Institute for the Study of War’s” argument in support of the conspiracy theory alleging that Russia staged a false flag assassination attempt against President Putin boils down to the malicious misportrayal of its coordinated media response, this attack being caught on tape, and military bloggers’ wishful thinking expectations of what might soon follow.

The so-called “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) has been cited by the Mainstream Media as supposedly being a neutral authority on the NATO-Russia proxy war in Ukraine, yet the reality is that it just serves as a pseudo-academic front for laundering information warfare narratives. Never has this been more obvious than when it just argued in support of the conspiracy theory alleging that Tuesday night’s attempted assassination of President Putin was supposedly a false flag attack.

This piece complements the prior day’s and will comprehensively debunk their report point-by-point:


* Claim: “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.”

– Truth: Kiev already brought the conflict to Russia by blowing up two journalists and bombing the Crimean Bridge so no false flag is needed to mobilize society, which many patriots have been pining for.


* Claim: “Russian authorities have recently taken steps to increase Russian domestic air defence capabilities, including within Moscow itself, and it is therefore extremely unlikely that two drones could have penetrated multiple layers of air defence and detonated or been shot down just over the heart of the Kremlin in a way that provided spectacular imagery caught nicely on camera.”

– Truth: It’s possible that the two drones were launched from within Moscow and perhaps even in very close proximity to the Kremlin as a means of penetrating the capital’s formidable air defences, while the innuendo that this incident being caught on camera supposedly means that it was staged is just as absurd as implying the same about footage of random crimes, school shootings, and terrorist attacks.


* Claim: “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. The Kremlin immediately accused Ukraine of conducting a terror attack, and Russian official responses coalesced rapidly around this accusation.”

– Truth: It’s a matter of indisputably documented record that the Kremlin didn’t immediately respond to this incident but instead waited approximately twelve hours afterwards to do so, likely due to the need to tap into HUMINT/SIGINT in order to leave no doubt as to who was behind this attack, which explains the coordinated media response afterwards since everyone literally had half a day to prepare.


* Claim: “It is very likely that the official Russian response would initially have been much more disorganized as Russian officials scrambled to generate a coherent narrative and offset the rhetorical implications of a clear informational embarrassment. The Kremlin has notably failed to generate a timely and coherent informational response to other military humiliations not of its own making, including the falls of Balakliya and Kherson City in September and November 2022.”

– Truth: The two examples cited at the end of the above excerpt can’t reasonably be compared to the messaging after Tuesday night’s incident. Russia’s unplanned pullbacks from Kharkov and Kherson Regions involved embedded military bloggers who independently portrayed events according to their personal perspectives, while none were present on Red Square when the drone attack happened, which was reported after a half-day delay for the reasons explained in the preceding fact-check.


* Claim: “The rapid and coherent presentation of an official Russian narrative around the strike suggests 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.”

– Truth: The coordinated media response was already accounted for, while the timing of this attack doesn’t extend credence to the false flag theory but actually reinforces the claim that Kiev carried it out ahead of Victory Day in an attempt to maximally discredit the Russian authorities and security services.


* Claim: “The Kremlin may use the strike to justify either cancelling 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.”

– Truth: It would be highly irresponsible for any government not to at the very least consider relevant security precautions ahead of large-scale public events across the country after a drone attack occurs in the run-up to their most important one of the year and literally strikes the president’s capital residence.


* Claim: “This messaging from pro-Kremlin mil-bloggers could support the assessment that the purpose of this false-flag attack was to justify increased mobilization measures rather than any sort of escalation.

– Truth: Wishful thinking shared by popular members of the “patriotic opposition” like most Russian military bloggers can objectively be described as isn’t credible evidence of a secret Kremlin connection.


The seven fact-checks shared above will now be summarized.

The ISW’s argument in support of this conspiracy theory boils down to the malicious misportrayal of Russia’s coordinated media response, this attack being caught on tape, and military bloggers’ wishful thinking expectations of what might soon follow. None of their three primary points compellingly proves that the attempted assassination of President Putin was a false flag attack. In fact, they’re so easily debunked that they expose the ISW as an information warfare laundromat of the US Government.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.

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Categories: Analysis, Geopolitics, International Affairs

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