When Vladimir Putin takes to the stage on Tuesday to commemorate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, his speech on Red Square will have been preceded by a turbulent week in which drones attacked the Kremlin and one of his top war leaders threatened mutiny.
The dramatic footage early last Wednesday of two drones flying over the walls of the Kremlin, its historical seat of power, exposed vulnerabilities in the heart of the Russian capital, putting Moscow on edge.
The authorities have banned the use of drones and started jamming GPS signals, leading to taxis appearing to be in the Moscow River on ride-hailing apps. Binoculars have hastily been handed out to police to spot incoming drones.
“There is a nervousness that I have never seen before,” said one official at the Moscow mayor’s office. “But Victory Day has to go ahead, there is no other option,” he added, speaking on conditions of anonymity.
Tellingly, on Friday, Putin took the unusual step to discuss the preparations for the 9 May Victory Day parade in a meeting with his security council, composed of Russia’s top state officials and heads of defence and security agencies.
Even before the drone attack on the Kremlin, there were signs of unease among the Russian leadership over the celebrations amid fears of Ukrainian strikes.
At least six Russian regions had scrapped the celebrations, with one region 400 miles from the border being the latest to cancel. [Continue reading…]