On Tuesday, Ukraine launched its second drone strike on Moscow to date and the first targeting civilian homes. Eight fixed-wing drones were launched, of which at least one crashed into an apartment building.
Tuesday’s attack on the capital city of Russia is a signal that, following last week’s G7 meeting—at which the US announced it would send F-16 fighters—the imperialist powers have decided to bring the war ever more directly into Russian territory.
These attacks are aimed at provoking a retaliatory response by Russia, which could then be used to justify a further escalation by NATO, including the potential entry of NATO troops directly into the conflict.
The claims by the United States that it does not “encourage” or “enable” strikes inside of Russia are transparent lies, aimed not at deceiving the Russian government but the American people. Ukraine’s attacks on the Russian capital would have been discussed with and authorized by the United States.
Ukraine has received US authorization in private to carry out strikes inside Russia, the Times of London reported in December. “The Pentagon has given a tacit endorsement of Ukraine’s long-range attacks on targets inside Russia,” it wrote.
Statements from political figures in the US and its allies implicitly endorsed the attacks.
Former congressman Adam Kinzinger, an anti-Trump Republican, wrote: “Hey #Russia. You lost your right to be outraged about a drone attack on Moscow back in Feb 2022. Live by the sword…”
UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly said that Ukraine has “the right to project force beyond its borders” and that such attacks are “internationally recognized as being legitimate as part of a nation’s self-defense.”
Last week, a far-right reporter asked Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler whether he opposed attacks inside Russia, to which he replied, “Nope… that’s fair play. … But why should Russia feel that they can invade somebody else? And have total safety at home?”
Beyond the immediate impact of the drone strikes, Tuesday’s attack could also be preparatory to a more sustained air assault.
The New York Times, citing Sam Bendett, an adviser on Russian studies at CNA, a research center connected to the military and intelligence agencies, wrote, “Apart from creating a sense of vulnerability in Russia, [Bendett] said, Ukrainian drone attacks might serve to test Moscow’s air defense systems and identify potential weaknesses that could be exploited in other attacks.”
Following the G7 summit, the WSWS noted that Washington’s decision to deploy F-16 fighter jets was not made at that time, but much earlier, as was made clear by previous statements from US officials.
The WSWS wrote, “If the decision to send F-16s to Ukraine was taken months ago, it was taken at a time when the US-NATO proxy forces in Ukraine were performing far better than they are now.” With the fall of Bakhmut, we added, “a much vaunted Ukrainian counter-offensive has failed to materialize.”
This raised the question, “How will the United States respond to this latest debacle? How much further can Washington escalate?”
The drone attacks give an indication. They are part of a series of measures taken by the US-NATO powers and its proxy force in Ukraine since the G7 meeting 10 days ago.
Last Wednesday, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the largest warship ever constructed, arrived in Oslo, Norway before carrying out “freedom of navigation” operations in the Arctic waters near Russia. Yesterday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Sweden to push for its accession to NATO as the western borders of Russia become a battlefront.
It is becoming clear that the sweeping goals articulated by the United States for its Ukrainian proxy force to “go on the offensive to liberate Russian-occupied Ukraine,” as US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley spelled out in January, are not possible without a massive expansion of US-NATO involvement in the war.
NATO’s preparations for a direct entry into the war are being increasingly openly discussed. On Tuesday, General Karel Řehka, the chief of the general staff of the Czech armed forces, said that NATO needs to “prepare” for a direct war with Russia.
“War between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance… is possible,” he said. Russia “is currently on a course towards a conflict with the Alliance. ... It can happen, and it is necessary to prepare for it in the long run.”
The US media is advocating the concept that the threat of nuclear war is an acceptable risk in seeking the “defeat” of Russia, publicly claiming that Putin’s failure to retaliate in response to perpetual NATO provocations gives the United States the freedom to escalate further.
In a guest opinion piece in the Times titled, “We Forget Nuclear Powers Have Lost Wars,” the pro-war historian Timothy Snyder declared, “When Russians talk about nuclear war, the safest response is to ensure their very conventional defeat.”
To those who warn that this course of action threatens the destruction of human civilization, Snyder replied bizarrely, “No option is without hazards.”
For his part, Putin, representing a faction of the Russian oligarchy, is perpetually seeking some sort of accommodation with his Western “partners,” who have no interest in being accommodated. While the Russian government is under pressure to escalate further, it is also terrified of the consequences of the growth of social opposition within the working class.
Speaking in Sydney, Australia on the new book Leon Trotsky and the Struggle for Socialism in the Twenty-First Century, WSWS Editorial Board Chairman David North explained the far-reaching consequences of the US-NATO war against Russia.
“The Ukraine war is not going away,” he noted. “It is metastasizing into a conflict of ever greater dimensions. It is the opening episode of what will soon be clear to be a world war, and it has the most dangerous implications.
“One could look at their policies and ask, don’t they realize this could result in a nuclear war? This is insane. And it’s true, it is insane.” But this insanity must be “explained materialistically.” It means that the actions of the imperialist powers “are a response to contradictions which have closed off rational responses.”
North added, “There are two processes at work. There is the process which leads, through the contradictions of capitalism, to devastating war and cataclysm. But those very contradictions also produce social revolution.”
Even as the US and NATO escalate the war against Russia, the working class is entering into struggle throughout the world. It is this social force that must be organized, educated and politically mobilized to put an end to war and the capitalist system.