Drone Strike On The Kremlin: What’s Next?

Drone Strike On The Kremlin: What’s Next?

By Andrew Korybko

On May 3, Russia accused Ukraine of attempting an assassination of President Vladimir Putin with a drone strike, which Kyiv denied. The two drones were neutralized by the security services and didn’t harm Putin nor cause any casualties or damage. Moscow regards this drone incident as a terrorist attack and declared that it reserves the right to retaliate at a time and place of its choosing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said, during the regular press conference on May 4, that “China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. All sides need to avoid taking actions that might further escalate the situation.” Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang also reiterated China’s core position on promoting peace talks to help achieve the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis on May 5 during his meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Meeting of Foreign Ministers in India’s Goa state. Lavrov pointed out that Russia attaches importance to China’s position paper on the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.

The context in which this took place concerns the tense run-up to Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive against Russian forces in those territories that Kyiv claims as its own but which Moscow regards as having voted to join it in disputed referenda last September.

The latest Pentagon leaks suggested that Ukraine is struggling to prepare for this operation, and Politico cited unnamed Biden administration officials in their report last week who voiced serious worries about what would happen if it fails.

The past few days saw the derailing of several Russian trains in that country’s universally recognized territory, which Moscow claimed was the result of sabotage. In addition, Moscow previously accused Ukraine of carrying out several cross-border drone attacks over the past half year, which extends credence to its claim that Kyiv was responsible for Tuesday night’s incident at the Kremlin.

Returning back to the incident itself and what might come next, everyone should be relieved that President Putin wasn’t hurt, which could have led to an unprecedented and perhaps even unthinkable escalation of this crisis.

With his safety assured, Russia might therefore be less likely to react emotionally to this incident and instead take the time to carefully think about its next moves. Policymakers might then remember that civilians will largely be the ones to bear the brunt of any escalation.

While Moscow’s strikes against military targets aim to achieve relevant objectives, they’ve thus far been unable to bring about the goal that the Kremlin has wanted, which is Kyiv’s capitulation and its agreement to respect Russia’s security interests as its leadership considers them to be. Precedent therefore suggests that more large-scale attacks might not make a major difference in this respect, even if they temporarily inconvenience Ukraine’s preparations for its planned counteroffensive.

On that topic, it should likewise be noted that Kyiv and its Western partners have also thus far been unable to bring about the goal that they wanted, which is Moscow’s capitulation and its agreement to leave all the territory that Ukraine regards as its own. Precedent therefore similarly suggests that their planned counteroffensive also probably won’t make a major difference in this respect and will thus only perpetuate the conflict, the consequences of which will largely be borne by civilians.

The observations shared in the preceding two paragraphs naturally suggest that the most optimal scenario is for both sides to seriously consider the immediate resumption of peace talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire as soon as possible. They each claim to have civilians’ best interests in mind, who’d obviously benefit the most if the guns were silenced. For that to happen, however, each party would need to make compromises and therein lies the dilemma.

Russia and Ukraine still remain convinced that they can meet their maximalist objectives in this conflict, though the continued pursuit thereof only inadvertently extends the hardships that civilians are experiencing.

After Tuesday night’s incident, it’s more urgent than ever that both sides seriously consider de-escalation, which can be facilitated by the diplomatic services of neutral third parties if each combatant has the political will to request its mediation.

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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