On Sunday, the day following a major drone attack on Moscow's financial district, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that he is ready to "return" war to Russia's own territory, emphasizing that this is "inevitable".
"Today is the 522nd day of the so-called 'Special Military Operation', which the Russian leadership thought would last a couple of weeks," he said in a new video message. "Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia - to its symbolic centers and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process."
He described these increasing attacks Russian territory as an "inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process" of the war between the two nations.
It seemed a rare moment of Ukraine's leadership owning up to a brazen cross-border attack deep in Russian territory. Throughout most of the war, Kiev officials have tended to stay silent on claiming responsibility specific attacks like this.
BBC noted of Zelensky's words that "It may be far from a confession, but President Zelensky clearly feels confident enough to pile on the pressure, and not just on the Kremlin."
Ukraine's most powerful military backer, the United States, early in the conflict urged restraint when it comes to the prospect of attacking Russian territory—and has even long been resistant to providing Kiev with long-range missiles.
And yet, there's mounting testimony and evidence that strongly suggests US support for certain major attacks on Russian territory, especially in the Crimean peninsula. Arguably the biggest and most devastating attacks were the two bombings of the Crimean Bridge (which Russia alleges Ukrainian forces had US or NATO assistance with in both cases).
It seems Zelensky now has greater willingness to be "open" in his intent to keep hitting Russian territory, which in turn raises to pressure on President Putin to respond with military escalation.
Indeed Putin is now signaling he's ready to do just that. While addressing the following remarks specifically in reference to the potential for a US-Russia clash over the skies of Syria, the issues at play certainly intersect with the Ukraine crisis as well:
Russia is “always ready for any scenario,” President Vladimir Putin told journalists on Saturday, commenting on a potential direct confrontation between the Russian and NATO militaries. The president was responding to a question about recent near-collisions involving Russian and American aircraft in Syria.
“No one wants that,” the president added, pointing to the existing conflict-prevention lines that allow Russian and US officers to talk directly about “any crisis situation.” That fact that these lines still work shows that no side is interested in a conflict, he added. “If someone wants it – and that’s not us – then we’re ready,” Putin added.
In Ukraine, there have been reports that intelligence and military command centers are being hit with Russian missiles at greater regularity.
A new Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow. Kiev is in a desperate situation. Desperate people do desperate things. From the beginning of this war the desperate act of a nuclear war was always attributed to Russia, despite its gains in the battlefield. Why is no one paying attention…— Sophia (@les_politiques) July 30, 2023
Some analysts have speculated that should the Ukrainian counteroffensive keep sliding toward failure and eventual defeat, Kiev will grow more desperate. Ukraine's government might also be desperate enough to orchestrate an intentionally escalatory situation which would "ensure" the West gets more directly dragged into the war. This also at a moment Kiev officials continue to be frustrated at lack of air superiority, given the lag over the timeframe of receiving F-16 jets.
America, you loved Build Back Better!— Peachy Keenan (@KeenanPeachy) July 30, 2023
Now you're loving Bidenomics!
And this fall he's delivering a very special treat:
Bidenuclear armageddon! pic.twitter.com/Ybm68wop4G