Setbacks in Ukraine trigger rare criticism of Russia’s war effort by Russian bloggers

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Three Russian navy bloggers have abruptly launched into damning criticism of the operation, and particularly the debacle of a failed crossing of the Siverskyi Donets river final week. The three bloggers mixed have greater than three million subscribers on Telegram.

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A distinguished former officer who recurrently seems on state tv additionally weighed in with a depressing view of Russia’s navy prospects in Ukraine.

Such public criticism of the navy operation in Ukraine may be very rare. The Kremlin insists the marketing campaign is on schedule.

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On the night of May 12, distinguished Russian navy correspondent Yuri Kotenok reposted accounts and pictures of the failed crossing, together with one from a Ukrainian supply.

Kotenok, who has almost 300,000 subscribers to his Telegram channel, reposted one account that castigated the Russian officer accountable and blamed him for crowding so many autos in a small space by the river.

In response to criticism from some subscribers, Kotenok retorted: “If you want fairy tales, then you have come to the wrong place. In such a case you should go to officialdom.”

He mentioned his position was “to provide with correct assessment, to speak good of the good, and bad of the bad, but to say the TRUTH.”

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Kotenok even had a dig at Russian tv protection. “If you want to sit in a warm bath and ‘fight’ softly and soothingly, then you are welcome to the television. There you will find a lot of things for the delight of your ears and eyes,” he mentioned.

The correspondent has been on the frontlines of different conflicts and mentioned that he carried shrapnel in his physique, earlier than concluding: “In war it happens that we suffer losses. Know this and … be silent if you have nothing to say in essence.”
Smoke rises from what appears to be a makeshift bridge across the Siverskyi Donets River in a handout image from Ukrainian Airborne Forces Command, provided on May 12, 2022.

Calls for change

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Several different fashionable Telegram accounts in Russia picked up the theme.

In a series of posts, blogger Vladlen Tatarskiy blamed the Russian commander of the operation. “Until we find out the name of this ‘military genius’ who wasted the BTG [battalion tactical group] near the river and he publicly answers for this, there will be no reforms in the army,” he wrote.

“The offensive in the Donbas is being hampered,” he mentioned, “not only due to the lack of effective intelligence from UAVs [drones], but also due to such generals.”

He mentioned he’d been warning for 18 months that Russian forces lacked each strike and reconnaissance drones.

Tatarskiy informed CNN that he was not criticizing the whole thing of what the Kremlin calls Russia’s “special military operation” however “individual episodes,” and he nonetheless believed Russia would obtain its targets in Ukraine. “I will personally make every effort to it,” he added, chatting with CNN by textual content message.

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Nevertheless, he additionally referred to as for broad change. “All the areas need to be improved,” he mentioned. “Each war reveals some drawbacks, shortcomings, or false experiences, experiences that need to be adjusted to the modern realities. So absolutely all spheres need reform,” mentioned Tatarskiy.

Another Telegram blogger sharing his views goes by the identify “vysokogovorit,” and has almost 400,000 subscribers.

“Didn’t the commander of the crossing at Bilohorivka have information that in the third month of the war, it was not permissible to move in large convoys, and let alone to accumulate them in a narrow fire-swept area in front of a water barrier?” he posted.

“How much of an idiot do you have to be to not understand this? Although this may not be idiocy, but direct sabotage.”

Vysokogovorit mentioned he’d been half of a river crossing close to Izium. “So I know what I’m talking about.”

Blogger Yuriy Podolyaka, who has greater than two million subscribers, echoed the criticism and later posted that the Russian Defense Ministry had carried out an evaluation of the pontoon bridge catastrophe and that classes have been being discovered. CNN can not confirm his declare.

The outbursts from such fashionable Telegram channels have been as transient as they have been surprising. All three accounts shortly returned to acquainted themes akin to alleged atrocities of the Ukrainian military. But the truth that they even aired such views and haven’t been taken out of circulation has shocked some observers.

A Russian military convoy moves on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 16, 2022.

‘Informational sedatives’

Doubts in regards to the course of the Russian operation have even emerged on one of state tv’s flagship reveals. On Monday’s version of Rossiya One’s 60 Minutes, retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok warned that “the situation for us will clearly get worse.”

Khodarenok rejected the declare that the Ukrainian armed forces are in disaster and on the verge of a “moral collapse” — describing such propaganda as “informational sedatives.” “To put it mildly, this is not true,” he mentioned.

Despite pushback from the present’s presenter, Khodarenok estimated that Ukraine might arm a million folks. And with the US Lend-Lease navy support program starting quickly, he mentioned, together with European help, “we really need to treat this million Ukrainian soldiers as a reality in the near future.”

Ukrainian troopers’ morale is more essential than their coaching, he insisted. “The desire to defend their motherland as they understand it in Ukraine very much exists,” he mentioned.

“Ultimately victory on the battlefield depends on the high morale of troops who are spilling blood for ideas they are ready to fight for,” Khodarenok added — presumably hinting at persevering with studies of low morale in some Russian items in Ukraine.

Khodarenok additionally took a essential view of Russia’s broader state of affairs. “We are in total geopolitical isolation, the whole world is against us but we don’t want to admit it,” he mentioned. “As far as China and India are concerned, their support for us isn’t so unconditional.”

Another essential voice is a former commander in the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) militia, Igor Strelkov — who was the DPR’s self-proclaimed minister of protection when the Malaysian airliner MH17 was allegedly shot down by males below his command in 2014.
Still influential in the DPR, Strelkov wrote Monday that “the widely advertised late-April and early-May operation to defeat the Donetsk group of the enemy has FAILED.”
Service members of pro-Russian troops drive armored vehicles near Novoazovsk in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region on May 6, 2022.

In a protracted screed, Strelkov mentioned that “only tactical successes have been reached. Not a single large locality has been liberated…It’s clear now that by early summer Donbas will not be fully liberated.”

Strelkov, whose Telegram channel has almost 400,000 followers, mentioned that the Russian excessive command was too apparent in its strategy and lacked any component of tactical shock.

Besides “individual examples of ‘outstanding lunacy'” — such because the try and cross the river, Strelkov mentioned that “the losses incurred in daily offensive battles (that do not end with the enemy’s defeat) cannot be quickly compensated by trained replacements.”

“No one knows where [Ukraine] will strike and when our troops will finally run out of steam (although this can also be predicted which I’m not going to do),” he added pessimistically.

These rare voices of criticism in Russia and the DPR virtually actually don’t portend any change of technique on the half of the Kremlin, however their airing as Ukraine presses a counteroffensive in the northeast is in stark distinction to the monopoly of the state over media protection of the invasion.

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