Russian panic as Putins army starting to admit heavy losses

Ukraine's strategy is to isolate Russian troops says expert

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As Ukraine makes huge advances in the northeast of the country, Russia appears to be in a state of panic. The Kremlin has tried to spin its setback, claiming its troops are “regrouping” rather than retreating. However, while Russian President Vladimir Putin can usually rely on his country’s news outlets to parrot his narrative, state media is now starting to admit that Moscow’s army is struggling. Russian expert Katia Glod spoke to Times Radio this week, explaining how the Kremlin is failing to hide its military failures from the Russian people.

She said: “What we have seen so far within the Russian regime is them trying to save face, saying to the public that this is not a retreat. Saying ‘this is a regrouping, this is what was planned.’

“Even though this is the narrative, it is not the only narrative. We have seen from some state official newspapers in recent days saying that the Ukrainian army is stronger, that they have not done their work well.

“On the other hand, there is a really strong far-right narrative emerging in Russia calling for very strong action, for escalation, possibly even the use of nuclear weapons. This narrative is becoming stronger, but what influence it will have on decision making is unclear.”

Asked how the Russian media is portraying the latest developments from Ukraine, Ms Glod added that they are finding it hard to spin the devastating losses into a positive.

She continued: “They are facing quite a difficult task to present the retreat as regrouping. For example, one of the most notorious propagandists Dmirty Kiselyov started his show by saying ‘our troops are retreating, it is a difficult situation’. So we have seen even the state propaganda admitting that things are not going right.”

Ukrainian forces are hoping to liberate all territory currently being occupied by Russia after Kyiv’s men launched a successful counter-attack in the northeast of the country. The troops have pushed their Russian counterparts away from areas surrounding the city of Kharkiv, freeing towns and villages along the way.

It took the Russians months to gain control over the territory earlier in the conflict. But it only took a few days for the Ukrainians to take it back, reclaiming more than 6,000 square kilometres in the process.

So what has the Russian media actually been saying? This week, a Russian state media host has called for the country’s generals to be “shot” as punishment for their failings in the war.

Volodymyr Solovyov wrote on his Telegram: “I do not justify anyone, especially do not argue with the fact that many bosses in uniform (I can not call them commanders) deserve to be dismissed in disgrace, and some of them should be shot, and I can even name a few names to decision makers.”

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Mr Solovyov had previously been one of Putin’s most loyal propagandists, supporting the invasion of Ukraine and echoing the Kremlin’s talking points.

The Daily Beast’s Julia Davis also shared a clip on Twitter which showed Russian commentator and filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov criticising the invasion of Ukraine.

He also challenged hosts who denied Ukraine’s existence, saying: “Why would you say something stupid like that? Of course there is a Ukrainian language.”

In another clip, the former state Duma deputy, Boris Nadezhdin, says: “People who convinced President Putin that the special operation would be fast and effective, we won’t strike the civilian population […] these people really set all of us up. Someone told him that Ukrainians will surrender, that they’ll flee, that they’ll want to join Russia. Someone had to be telling him all this.”

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