Russia’s war hawks have spent most of the past year claiming they’re not losing in Ukraine – they’re just being held back. But now, they claim, the gloves are being removed.
It is no longer enough to bomb women and children in their sleep. It’s time to shoot down [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s plane” and “Fire missiles at [his] Residing in Kiev,” two Kremlin allies said on Wednesday.
A chorus of pro-Kremlin voices are calling for “merciless” revenge after Moscow accused Ukraine of trying to assassinate President Vladimir Putin overnight in the Kremlin. Rather than questioning the official version of events — how on earth TWO Ukrainian drones could outpace all Russian air defenses to strike in the heart of the capital — Russian officials and propagandists alike wasted no time foaming at the mouth , when they demanded that “real war” begins now.
“But it’s still not a red line, right? No reason to call war a war? To start guiding it. No reason to shoot down Zelensky’s plane with precision (he just flew away somewhere). No, of course it’s still not enough,” propagandist Anton Krasovsky wrote bitterly on Telegram.
Pro-Kremlin war correspondent Alexander Kotz said at the time that even firing rockets at Ukraine’s “decision centers” in Kiev would not be enough. According to him, Russia must now “eliminate” the “decision makers” personally.
The increasingly unhinged Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, called on the military to “physically eliminate Zelenskyy and his clique”.
“After today’s terrorist attack there are no more options,” he wrote on Telegram.
“And we take this? Why isn’t the center of Kiev being systematically turned into rubble right now?” complained the neo-Nazi paramilitary unit Rusich.
Lawmakers have been only slightly more reticent in their calls for hellfire against Ukraine.
“This is a real casus belli – reason for war,” wrote Sergei Mironov. “We have something we can use to wipe out their bunkers,” he said, calling for the “liquidation” of the Ukrainian government.
State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said lawmakers will now “require the use of weapons capable of stopping and destroying the terrorist regime of Kiev.”
Russian pro-war advocates began posting a meme that read, “If you don’t bomb [Ukrainian government headquarters at] Bankova, Bankova will bomb you.”
Suddenly, military bloggers, who have built their careers by telling Kremlin audiences that Ukraine’s military is weak and incompetent, suddenly incited fear that the Russian leader himself was under threat. The reversal comes not only after the alleged drone strike on the Kremlin — but also after the president’s team allegedly instructed its media mouthpieces to hype the threat posed by Ukraine to make defeat in the war less humiliating.
Ukraine — where more than a dozen civilians were killed in a Russian attack on Kherson on Wednesday, despite Russians writhing in hysteria over drone strikes on the Kremlin — has denied any involvement in the alleged attack, suggesting it was just part of Moscow’s recent “escalation” of the war ahead of a planned Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“We are not attacking either Putin or Moscow. We are fighting on our own territory, defending our villages and towns,” Zelenskyy said in TV commentary from Germany, adding that Ukraine does not even have enough weapons to launch attacks inside Russia.
A Russian expert quoted by the financial times said the drones may have come from near Moscow and that the small amount used in the “attack” suggested it was more likely carried out by a partisan movement.
Still, many saw the drone attack as the beginning of a new phase in the war. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said in a statement on Twitter that it was clear the incident was intended to serve as a pretext for Russia to crack down on Ukraine and eventually appease pro-war “patriots” who are causing further devastation and death cheer .
“Russia is obviously preparing a large-scale terrorist attack.”
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