Russian President Vladimir Putin has faced backlash from pro-Kremlin bloggers over the “terrible failure” of his military in Ukraine.
Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, banking on his massive military to lead him to a quick victory. However, Ukraine met his troops with a stronger than expected defense effort, backed by the help of allies, including the United States. In recent days, Ukraine has stepped up counter-offensives in Russian-held territories, allowing Kyiv to make massive gains more than six months into the conflict.
Ukraine launched a surprise counter-offensive in the areas around Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city. In recent days, Ukrainian forces took control of key cities like Izyum and Kupyansk, forcing Russian soldiers to retreat as experts see Ukraine gaining momentum.
Despite global condemnation of alleged human rights abuses by the Russian military and a lack of justification for the war, many in Russia have rallied around Putin. However, those Ukrainian victories have turned against him some hard-line pro-Russian bloggers who have for months hailed the Russian leader’s invasion.
These pro-Russian bloggers, some with millions of followers, have long played a role in spreading the Kremlin’s pro-war propaganda but are now slamming Putin for the casualties and saying he should put more resources into the war .
One blogger, Peter Lundstrem, has blasted Putin for celebrating City Day, a holiday honoring the founding of Moscow amid losses in Ukraine. He chided Putin for celebrating the holiday while Russian soldiers had “NO thermal imaging cameras, NO bulletproof vests, NO reconnaissance equipment, NO secure communications, NO enough helicopters, NO first aid kits.”
“They’re celebrating a billionth holiday. What is wrong with you? Well, not during such a terrible failure,” he wrote in a Telegram post.
Another pro-Russian blogger, Yuri Podolyaka, admitted on Telegram that the casualties were “heavy” and “cannot be ignored,” describing Saturday as “the most difficult day of this war.”
“The most important question is, what’s next? Nobody has an answer to that yet. Because those who are on the subject know that the current defeat in the Kharkiv region is the result of the fact that so far many people in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation are trying not to notice the problems identified in the first months of the war,” wrote Podolyaka.
Some blogs target Putin’s Defense Ministry
The Russian Defense Ministry was also criticized by pro-Russian bloggers for its handling of the loss, with bloggers accusing Russian defense officials of not being open about Ukraine’s success in the Kharkiv counteroffensive. A blog called “Military Informant” criticized the Department of Defense for its “death silence”.
“All this looks like a consciously progressive self-isolation from reality, as if hiding the situation from the high stands, then the population will not know anything blog said in a telegram post.
Another blog on Telegram, titled Rybar, said: “But let’s face it: now is not the moment to be silent and say nothing. Now is not the moment where you can create an information vacuum and work with some kind of hybrid means bringing information in cans and streams to the population.”
Meanwhile, Igor Girkin, a former commander of pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, wrote on Saturday that Ukraine had “already won” and that Putin’s military should focus on maintaining his troops.
“Now, in fact, our side can only talk about how to stop its further deepening and prevent the escalation of an operational failure into a strategic one,” he wrote. “Although in general it has already become too small. The enemy has already won the ‘battle for the initiative’. Now we should talk about preventing the Armed Forces of Ukraine from encircling and destroying large formations of our troops.”
news week has asked the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
https://www.newsweek.com/putin-faces-backlash-russian-bloggers-amid-retreat-horrible-failure-1741872 Putin faces backlash from Russian bloggers during withdrawal: ‘Terrible failure’