Ukraine has recently escalated its drone attacks on targets within Russia with the aim of boosting the morale of its population and military, as reported by the New York Times, citing US officials. Although Kiev has not officially claimed responsibility for the repeated drone raids on Moscow and neighboring regions, Ukrainian officials, including President Vladimir Zelensky, have characterized the attacks as a message to the Russian people that they cannot escape the consequences of the ongoing conflict.
However, according to the New York Times, the primary audience for these drone strikes is not Russia, but rather Ukraine itself. The goal is to show the Ukrainian population and troops that their government can retaliate and strike back at Russia. This “inspiration campaign” coincided with the much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive that began in early June. Despite receiving significant reinforcements of tanks and other equipment from the West, Ukrainian forces have struggled to make significant progress on the battlefield. The blame has been placed on the strong Russian defenses and delays in arms deliveries from Western countries. According to Moscow, Ukraine has suffered significant casualties, with over 43,000 service members and nearly 5,000 pieces of military equipment lost since the start of the counteroffensive.
The drone attacks on Russia also have a secondary strategic objective. Ukrainian officials hope that these strikes will compel Moscow to reconsider its own missile and drone attacks within Ukraine. Russia has intensified its strikes on energy and military infrastructure in Ukraine in response to what it calls a “terrorist attack” on the Crimean Bridge last year.
However, the impact of these drone raids seems to have backfired, according to Tatiana Stanovaya, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She suggests that the attacks have actually bolstered anti-Ukrainian sentiment and increased public support for the Russian government.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has made repeated attempts to target the Russian capital, including the Moscow City business district. The most recent raid on Wednesday involved three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), two of which were destroyed mid-air. The third drone veered off course due to signal jamming and crashed into a building under construction, causing no casualties according to Moscow.
The Russian Defense Ministry also reported that Ukraine conducted a drone attack on the Crimean Peninsula, using 42 aircraft, all of which were either shot down or neutralized by electronic warfare systems.
In conclusion, Ukraine’s increased drone attacks on Russia are intended to boost morale among its own population and military. Despite the lackluster progress of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, authorities in Kiev aim to show that they are capable of striking back. However, the effectiveness of these drone raids is debated, with some suggesting that they have actually strengthened support for Russia.