Attacks on residential buildings hit Putin in a vulnerable spot

What is now routine for many Ukrainians shook the whole of Moscow on Tuesday morning: around a dozen drones attacked the greater city area. Some of them damaged residential buildings, some of them were repelled by the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft system. Two people were slightly injured.

Now the Kremlin is swearing revenge. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russian forces would “strike back with maximum force.” The head of the Russian republic of Chechnya and Putin confidante Ramzan Kadyrov also relied on aggression: “We will soon show in the zone of military special operations what revenge is in the full sense of the word,” he wrote in his blog on the Telegram news channel.

Ukraine denied involvement in the drone strikes and responded with derision. “Of course we are not directly involved,” said the adviser to the President’s Office in Kiev, Mykhailo Podoliak, on Tuesday on the morning radio of the Russian journalist Alexander Plyushchev, who was critical of the Kremlin. Russian drones may have returned to their senders.

Suddenly the war is in the front yard of the oligarchs

According to Russian data, all drones were successfully destroyed and are currently being investigated. The damage to buildings and cars is minimal. Nevertheless, the impact on the Russian population is enormous. “We thought it was far away, but now it’s coming to us,” ARD quoted a woman who was evacuated from her home after a drone attack.

Your words show how radically different this attack is from previous ones. While an alleged drone attack hit the Kremlin directly in early May, this time the drone strikes affected the civilian population. Several drones landed in residential buildings. This could also have an impact on the opinion of the Russian population on their country’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The drone attacks are also part of the psychological warfare that struck at the heart of Russia’s political and economic elite.

Because some of the drones apparently hit or flew over Rublevka, a posh suburb in southwest Moscow where oligarchs, politicians and high officials live in luxurious settlements isolated from the rest of the population. In addition to Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Boris Rotenberg, who earned billions with Gazprom, and Vladimir Lissin, CEO of the Russian steel producer Novolipetsk Steel, live here. Putin’s residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, where the Kremlin boss spends most of his time, is also only a ten-minute drive away. It is this elite circle on which Putin has built his power, it is the people who support him. It is probably Putin’s most sensitive spot.

It is still unclear how significant the political damage will be for the Russian regime. But it is obvious that it will be greater than any material damage. Especially in the upper class, approval of the Russian war of aggression could quickly tip over if even more drones reached their properties.

Putin tries to hide his own weaknesses

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin used his platform on Telegram to rail against oligarchs and the Ministry of Defense. “Why the hell are you allowing so many drones to land in Moscow? As a citizen, I am extremely angry that you bastards are sitting quietly on your ass while ordinary people at home are scared. Who cares if drones fly over Rublevka? Let your houses burn!”

Prigozhin’s words and the drone strikes highlight a Russian weakness that cannot easily be masked by patriotic propaganda. Putin and his mouthpieces are still acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The air defenses have worked well, they just want to improve something, the president said on state television on Tuesday. How long he can maintain this image remains to be seen.

Hank Peter

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