Russian nationalist commentators said on Tuesday that the first mass drone attack to hit Moscow highlighted the government’s inability to prepare the population for a protracted conflict that continues to cross borders. country border.
A flurry of drones targeting the Russian capital on Tuesday morning caused minor damage, breaking some windows in three residential buildings and slightly injuring two residents, according to local official. The biggest impact of the attack, however, is likely to be psychological, forcing Muscovites to face the reality of Russia’s war in Ukraine, where many work hard to disrupt their daily lives. .
“If the goal is to put pressure on the population, then the fact that drones are appearing in the skies over Moscow contributes to that,” wrote pro-war Russian military blogger Mikhail Zvinchuk, who posted under moniker Rybar, and has more than a million followers on the Telegram messaging app.
The head of the country’s Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, said the attack highlighted Russia’s technology lag in drone warfare, which he previously said was shaping the conflict in Ukraine. He has also used it to fuel his populist attacks on Russian defense officials, whom he has long accused of incompetence.
“What are ordinary people supposed to do when explosive-laden drones crash into their windows?,” he said in an audio message posted on Telegram on Tuesday after the attack in Moscow . Using at least six different slurs to describe Russian defense officials, he added: “People have every right to ask them these questions.”
The fact that some of the drones crashed in high-rise neighborhoods gave Mr. Prigozhin’s broadside. “Light up your houses,” he said, referring to the military and political elite.
Pro-Kremlin propagandists tried to portray the muted public response to the drone strike as a show of hard work by Muscovites, and as the latest in a long history of attacks that have hit the Russian capital in its entire history. Previous attacks have ended in Russian victories, commentators, including Andrei Medvedev, a state media reporter and local lawmaker in Moscow, said.
A Kremlin spokesman said only that the Defense Ministry was “acting well” in responding to the attack, declining to comment further in his daily call to reporters on Tuesday. Russian officials echoed the Kremlin’s line, with a ruling party lawmaker, Andrei Gurulev, saying Muscovites were more likely to be hit by an electric scooter than a drone in the city center.
The muted response has added to a sense of what critics of the Russian government on the right call a leadership vacuum after increasingly brutal attacks on Russian territory. Mr. Putin, for example, did not comment on last week’s attack in the Belgorod region, which led to at least two days of heavy fighting.
“The strength of the psychological blow caused by the drone attack on Moscow is not in the scale of destruction, but in the fact that the leadership of the country promised us not a war, but a special military operation,” wrote the former paramilitary leader Igor Girkin. , which has long called for an escalation of the war in Ukraine.
“Instead of an honest conversation with a country, we get blurry consolations about Napoleon’s conquest of Moscow: Don’t worry, everything will be planned,” he wrote on Telegram on Tuesday. “What is the real plan?”
Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political scientist based in Paris, says the lack of wartime leadership has become more acute. “Everything is built on his oft-stated idea of a ‘patient nation,’ which understands everything and endures anything,” he wrote on Telegram on Tuesday, referring to Mr. Putin. “Let’s see.”