Things don’t seem to be going well for the Russian military. Posted yesterday The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a map showing that Russian troops have almost completely left the Kharkov region. And the loss of land does not seem to stop. According to Kyiv, Ukrainian fighters have recaptured more than 20 places in the past 24 hours.
Bad news is bad
The losses on the Russian side have several causes, explains the former commander of the ground forces Mart de Crieff. Zelensky, for example, gives his army commanders a lot of freedom in managing their operations.
This does not apply to the Russian army, where a culture of fear prevails. Therefore, the army leadership does not dare to spread bad news and will not feel free to discuss the feasibility of certain goals, according to de Cruyff. I wonder if Putin is well informed.
The Ukrainian Army Command also has a certain experience gained in the United Kingdom and the United States. You can see this in the initiative that fell to Ukraine last month. They are beginning to plan how to deceive the Russians.” So only Russia is reacting to what Ukraine is doing. “They were lured to Kherson with a red cloth and then Ukraine was struck in Kharkov.”
Two other frequently discussed factors are the long-range weapons the Ukrainians received from the West and their inexhaustible motives. Putin has succeeded in attracting new soldiers to the front with wages of 4,000-5,000 euros per month, “but recruiting people for money does not work,” says de Crove firmly. “For the money, your motives will be gone in front after a day.”
Pro-Kremlin bloggers criticize
The fact that the Russian army is significantly weakened after six months has not escaped the flag of the country itself. Criticism is heard from different angles. Nationalist military bloggers, for example, have been making themselves heard for quite some time. Russia correspondent Eva Hartog explains that they are now getting more attention because Russia is now in a precarious position. A new chapter has begun and this is humiliating for Russia.”
There has been little movement on the front line in recent months. Suddenly everything has changed since last week. Russia did not expect this and the soldiers seem to have fled. “Now they have to explain that and that doesn’t fit their story. So the Kremlin remains remarkably silent.”
Russian expert Hubert Smits says that the far-right Igor Girkin, like others, began to express criticism a long time ago. The former KGB colonel became commander of pro-Russian separatist forces in 2014 and is seen as instigating war in Ukraine that year. You may also know him as the prime suspect in the downing of Flight MH17.
He is one of the most prominent voices in an increasingly vocal group of ultra-nationalist military bloggers. They criticize the Kremlin for failing to achieve tactical goals.
Both Smits and Hartog maintain that critics do not condemn the war itself. Hartog explains that they just want to see a victory in the current war. They do not agree with the way this goal is being worked on and “aim to escalate”. According to them, management and armament should be better to liberate Ukraine from the “Nazis”.
For example, they want to fire certain generals, says Smits. For example, the far-right Girkin has repeatedly called for the dismissal of the defense minister. Hartog says some bloggers are even calling for some army leaders to be executed. But cries for help will have little effect on the Kremlin’s resilience.
Putin stays out of harm’s way
It is also important to understand to whom the nationalist military bloggers are expressing their criticism. They point their arrows only at the Ministry of Defense and the army leadership. Putin himself is completely out of the question. Smits explains that this is a Russian tradition. “Putin has the aura of a kind of Tsar. The Tsar is good, but he is surrounded by idiots.”
However, today Putin appears to have come under direct fire from a different angle. Representatives of 17 districts in Moscow and Saint Petersburg are demanding the resignation of the Russian president. Together, these local politicians represent several million Russians and have signed a public statement that states, among other things, that “President Putin’s actions are detrimental to Russia’s future.” According to The Insider, Russian research publication Which operates from Latvia, where it has been banned in Russia since July.
Hysteria on talk shows
Criticism is heard not only on social media, but also on state television. Although Russian newscasts are silent, the same is not true of talk shows. magazines Presenting bad news as Deliberate tactical choice: meant to regroup armies to be able to strike harder later. However, there has been no silence on talk shows for months. “Hysteria” is the proper name for Smits. He says this hysteria has increased in the past few weeks.
And last weekend something special happened, says Hartog. “A war expert has harshly criticized a pro-Kremlin TV channel and it aired.” The way he criticized is not allowed in Russia, let alone on state television. “He said this in a sensitive context, placing his finger on the painful area and letting out a completely different sound.”
Although the criticism in Russia is striking, there will be no uprising tomorrow, according to Hartog’s nuances. Most Russians did not realize that the losses had been inflicted on them, let alone how this could have happened. They are watching the news on state television that follows the line of the Kremlin. “So it seems that Putin is succeeding in letting people have as little as possible from the war in Ukraine.”
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