Featured image: Star Wars actor Mark Hamill poses as the official face of Ukraine’s “Army of Drones” fundraiser.  Source: The Grayzone.

Days before a failed drone assassination targeting Putin, Ukrainian banking baron Volodymyr Yatsenko offered a $500,000 bounty to any weapons maker able to land a drone in Red Square during Moscow’s upcoming Victory Day parade. 

Six months earlier, the “Army of Drones” campaign – which was set up to raise funds to assist Ukraine’s procurement of foreign-produced, unmanned aircraft – enlisted Star Wars actor Mark Hamill as its top brand ambassador.  

The following is extracted from the article ‘Ukrainian banker offers cash for drone terror in Russia’ published by The Grayzone on 2 May 2023.

On 23 April, a Ukrainian drone laden with 30 Canadian-made C4 explosive blocks crashed near Rudnevo Industrial Park in Moscow. Ukraine-based operators deployed the 37 LB arsenal in a failed bid to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was scheduled to visit Rudnevo that day. 

The drone ultimately failed to hit its target, crashing roughly 12 miles from its intended destination. Russian media reported authorities discovered three similar unmanned aircraft in the surrounding area. By the time the Canadian-manufactured bombs arrived in Moscow, the government in Ottawa had provided Kiev with nearly 6 billion dollars worth of aid to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s military. 

The Ukrainian UJ-22 drone’s flight originated in the country’s Kharkov region. Yuriy Romanenko, a co-founder of a think tank with close ties to Kiev’s intelligence services, credited Ukraine’s Secret Service (“SBU”) with orchestrating the assassination attempt. Romanenko wrote on Twitter: “Last week, our intelligence officers received information about Putin’s trip to the industrial park in Rudnevo… Accordingly, ours launched a kamikaze drone, which flew through all the air defences of the Russian Federation, and fell not far from the industrial park.”

“Putin, we are getting closer,” Romanenko warned.

The drone was carrying m112 explosive charges, which are used by several states including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. According to Russian media, the explosives recovered from the botched attack were of Canadian origin.

The failed attempt on Putin’s life came amidst a wave of drone incursions into Russian airspace in recent months. A day after the unsuccessful 23 April offensive, the Russian outlet SHOT recorded 10 drone attacks in the Belgorod border region, some of which included French LU-213 fragmentation grenades and American-made Switchblade drones. The Switchblade has been used in previous air assaults on the region as well.

Ukraine recruits Hollywood

The uptick in drone attacks inside Russian territory followed Kiev’s July 2022 launch of an “Army of Drones” campaign, an official effort to raise funds, dubbed “dro-nations,” to assist Ukraine’s procurement of foreign-produced, unmanned aircraft.

The fundraising push, which counts the Western-backed online troll farm, NAFO, and the Ukrainian World Congress as formal partners, has enlisted famed Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, as its top brand ambassador.

Leading Kiev’s “dro-nation” campaign is Ukraine’s Minister for Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, who “makes no attempt to hide the deadly nature of these drones designed to smash into targets like soldiers or tanks,” according to the BBC.

“But like the rest of his government,” the BBC continued, “he refuses to talk about recent drone strikes on Russian territory.”

Non-governmental actors, however, are not so tight-lipped. In fact, Ukrainian television kicked off a private initiative to encourage future drone attacks on Russian territory just days before the 23 April aerial attempt on Putin’s life.

Accused Ukrainian embezzler offers bounty for drone terror inside Russia

On April 6, Ukrainian finance and weapons industry magnate, Volodymyr Yatsenko, appeared on the Kiev-based TSN network and offered a cash prize worth approximately US$549,000 to any national weapons producer that manages to land a drone inside Moscow’s Red Square during Russia’s upcoming Victory Day celebration.

Russia’s annual Victory Day commemoration marks the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s 1945 surrender to the Soviet Red Army. Each 9 May millions of Russian citizens participate in marches throughout the country to honour their nation’s triumph over fascism. 

While announcing his competition for a drone attack on Moscow’s upcoming 9 May Victory Day parade, Yatsenko declared the winning aircraft must not only land in Red Square but be recognisable as Ukrainian.

“It must have Ukrainian slogans like ‘Glory to Ukraine,’” the banking magnate insisted, invoking Kiev’s Nazi slogan.

The Soviet victory in WWII, known as ‘The Great Patriotic War’ in Russia, remains a source of national pride in the country to this day. The Western-backed government in Kiev, meanwhile, has incorporated neo-Nazi battalions into its military and venerated Ukraine’s WWII-era Nazi collaborators with official state honours.

As the prospects of Kiev’s victory against Moscow on the battlefield wane, its elite are openly promoting a strategy of aerial terrorism inside the Russian Federation. A celebration marking the defeat of Nazi Germany is perhaps their most natural target.

Read the full article HERE.


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