Exclusive: Lt. Col. Daniel Davis Warns of ‘New Level’ Attack, ‘Dangerous’ Escalation After Alleged Drone Strike on Kremlin

UKRAINE - AUGUST 2, 2022 - The presentation of 30 DJI Matrice 300 RTK drones purchased for
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A “new level” of attack may be imminent after an alleged drone strike on the Kremlin — “the symbol of Russian power,” according to retired Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, who warned of a major escalation that could determine the war’s outcome.

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Thursday, Davis addressed the recent explosion over the Russian Kremlin — an act the Russians deemed a “terrorist attack” by Ukrainian drones, while Ukraine has denied any involvement.

A view of Kremlin after the drone attack in Moscow, Russia on May 03, 2023. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Davis, a Defense Priorities senior fellow and military expert, spent over two decades in active service, which included combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was awarded two Bronze Star medals. 

In assessing the unprecedented incident, he turned to the ancient military general and philosopher Sun Tzu.

“You just have to look back 2,500 years ago to Chinese strategist Sun Tzu who said, ‘All warfare is based on deception,’ and that has never changed in all the centuries since,” Davis said, “and it’s never been more true than in this particular conflict in that you can’t take anything at face value from Kiev, from Moscow, from Washington, [or] from Brussels.”

The reason for suspicion, he explains, is that “so much of it turns out to be intentional disinformation or partially true information to try to make people think or feel a certain way.” 

Davis noted that such notions “really come into play here because we have what at least appears to be an actual video and some other evidence from multiple angles of an explosion over the Kremlin, and it appears that there’s some sort of a drone that explodes.”

“Beyond that, everything else is subject to interpretation,” he said.

Considering the context, he presents two possibilities.

“Either Ukraine did this and what Russia’s saying is true — and it’s easy to be true when the truth is in your favor — or Ukraine is right and it was a false flag operation and Russia did it for their benefit,” he said, adding that “both possibilities have legitimate considerations.”

Davis, who retired from the US Army as a Lt. Col. following his 21 years of active service, clarifies each side’s potential motives behind such a move.

“The Ukraine side certainly has motivation because there have been quite a number of drone and sabotage attacks by Ukraine just in the past few days,” he stated, as he noted two drone strikes, with one sparking a huge fire at a fuel storage facility in the Russian-occupied Crimean port city of Sevastopol, along with two train derailments in the Russian Bryansk border region.

“And so now potentially, here’s this shot on the Kremlin,” he added.

According to this view, Ukraine’s reasoning may be in line with its likely long-awaited launch of a spring offensive — something Davis believes “all the evidence points to.”

Ukrainian paratroopers fire an L119 howitzer towards Russian positions at a front line in the Lugansk region on April 20, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Anatolii Stepanov / AFP) (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian paratroopers fire an L119 howitzer towards Russian positions at a front line in the Lugansk region on April 20, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Some examples he cites include Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov’s Monday declaration that all the pieces are in place and they’re “just waiting for the right moment,” as well as an increase in apparent reconnaissance missions.

“Lots of what appears to be reconnaissance-in-force, much stronger than normal offensive operations from the Ukraine on a number of spots across the line of contact could indicate that they’re doing some reconnaissance, probing attacks to find their weak spots, and that the main attack is potentially days away,” he said.

“So all that could be tied together where Ukraine is trying to get their people motivated, build up the morale of their troops to [prove] nothing’s off limits [and they can] take this to the enemy, so it could all be a package for that,” he added. 

On the other hand, he explained, it is “entirely possible” the incident was a false flag operation “because Russia has things to gain from that as well.”  

The Associated Press

Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defense of Ukraine, waves as he inspects the guard of honour, before his meeting with his Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos, in Athens, on Tuesday, April 6, 2023. Reznikov is in Greece on an official visit. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

For example, Russia’s ex-president Dmitry Medvedev, a top ally of Putin, called for the “physical elimination” of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in a Telegram post on Wednesday, conveying a message, according to Davis, that “now the gloves are coming off; there’s no negotiations; all we’re going to do is now take out Zelensky and then we’re going to go to full attack against Ukraine.”

In addition, he noted, the Kremlin itself said it has the “right to retaliate” in a manner, place and time of its choosing.

In other words, Davis explained, Russia is saying “all responses are on the table” and may use “any and all means [it possesses] to attack Ukraine and win this conflict.”

“So it could be that they’re using this to get their own people to say, ‘Look, [Ukraine is] now a terrorist organization,’ which is what they’re saying,” he said. “The Russians are all saying this was a terrorist strike and it shows the nature of our enemy and now that nothing’s off the table for them, we have to really double down and do whatever it takes to win.”

He also suggested that Russia could possibly be “setting the stage to accelerate or expand their target list,” given that Moscow has been relatively “restrained in some of the targets they’ve attacked.”

For example, he noted, Russia has, as of now, not attacked “any of the ministries, none of the sites downtown, [and] not the presidential palace.” 

“All those kinds of things have been left off limits,” he stated.

A woman walks past damaged residential buildings as she carries a child in Uman, around 215km southern Kyiv, on April 28, 2023, after Russian missile strikes targeted several Ukrainian cities overnight. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition, he added, Zelensky has also been regarded as “off limits” until now.

“When Russia left Kherson back in November, there clearly was some kind of a deal between them and Ukraine that [the latter] would not attack the Russians when they withdrew from Kherson and Russia would not attack Zelensky when visiting the the area for his photo op victory parade a couple of days later,” he said, “because easily they could have done that but they chose not to.”

The former Lt. Col. suggested Moscow may be “changing tactics,” and may say, “‘OK, on the eve of Ukraine’s offensive, we’re going to upstage them, potentially.” 

“And there could be in the days ahead some kind of new level of attack that Russia hadn’t done,” he warned.

Citing all the previous scenarios as “possibilities,” Davis emphasized that “both sides have motivation and both sides have opportunity.”

He also explained why the recent incident poses a far greater risk than previous escalations.

“Whether it was a false flag or whether Ukraine did it, I think that the net result and the potential for Russia is the same in that the symbol of Russian power was attacked or, at least it faced an attempt, and certainly had an explosion over the top of it,” he said.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during an event marking Cosmonaut Day at the State Kremlin Palace, on April 12, 2023 in Moscow, Russia. (Contributor/Getty Images)

Furthermore, he elaborated, the unprecedented incident warranted a response in the eyes of Russia.

“As some of the Russian commentators mentioned [following the strike], there has been no attack on Moscow of any sort for 80 years,” he said. “This is the first time that’s happened.” 

“This is the symbol of Russian military power, and there may be a big push from underneath for the Kremlin to actually take some sort of punitive response,” he added.

As a result, Davis warned that the “potential for risk of escalation” has increased because “it’s going to be hard for the Russians to not do anything in response.” 

“I just can’t imagine them not doing anything and just firing another couple of missiles. They do that every single day practically, so that wouldn’t cut it,” he said. 

Ukrainian soldiers of Da Vinci Wolves Battalion firing artillery in the direction of Bakhmut, April 3, 2023. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“So I think that you’ve got a real shot for some escalation and this could represent a dangerous moment,” he added.

On the personal safety of Zelensky, Davis referred to Medvedev as one who is “certainly given to lots of rhetorical flourish, yet he is also the deputy director of the National Security Council directly to boot, so you can’t just dismiss what he said.”

“And it was as direct as can be when he said we will now take out Zelensky,” he added. “So if that’s not official Russian policy it’s about as close as you can get.”

Noting a “decent chance that in the very near term, Russia is going to escalate its target list and hit something that it has not hit before in response,” Davis warned that a “target” is now on Zelensky.

“That’s all we can speculate on at the moment, but this [certainly] represents a dangerous potential escalation point,” he said.  

He also suggested that everything occurring now on both sides of the conflict is tied to a long-awaited “blooming Ukrainian offensive” because Russia “doesn’t want to just sit and passively wait to find out what Ukraine’s going to do.”

“They may want to have a spoiling attack of their own to try to take some of this steam out of Ukraine’s side, [and] Ukraine wants to do all it can to bolster its motivation on the eve of its [counter-offensive],” he said. “And everything is going to come down to what happens in this offensive, this could actually determine the war depending on how it plays out.”

“So this is a really important moment, I think, altogether. I’m definitely going to be watching very closely in the next week or so,” he concluded.

In January, Davis claimed the United States has “no plan” or strategy in Ukraine and warned of the real-world danger of invoking NATO’s “mutual defense” clause, which could trigger a nuclear war.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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