Far-right Russian bloggers, who support the Russian military’s invasion of Ukraine, embellish the failures on the war fronts. The Guardian, in an article, presents the severe criticism of the Russian forces by these far-right analysts.
“The war in Ukraine will continue until the complete defeat of Russia,” protested Igor Girkin, a far-right nationalist, in a video address to his 430,000 Telegram followers on Monday. “We have already lost, the rest is just a matter of time,” he writes characteristically.
Girkin, a former Russian intelligence colonel who became commander of pro-Russian separatist forces in 2014, is arguably the most prominent voice in an increasingly loud and angry group of ultranationalists and pro-war bloggers who are “blasting” the Kremlin for failure to achieve its tactical objectives as the fighting in Ukraine has entered its seventh month, the Guardian notes.
They propose that general conscription be declared
After Ukraine’s latest counteroffensive in the country’s south and northeast, these bloggers — who have so far been granted a public platform that many lack — have stepped up their criticism of the Kremlin, denouncing the military’s poor performance in the war and urging the Vladimir Putin to declare general conscription.
“They are certainly getting angrier, and with good and obvious reason, especially as the gap between the official line and the reality on the ground widens,” said Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian security.
On Wednesday, Ukraine launched a surprise counterattack near the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, encircling Balaklia, a strategically important town of 27,000, and recapturing several smaller settlements.
Military bloggers, who are often ex-veterans with front-line contacts, also provide a rare glimpse into Russia’s actual performance on the ground.
“Some are very dubious sources, but there are also those – like Girkin – who know what they’re talking about and clearly have contact with people on the front or who otherwise know,” Galeotti said.
How many soldiers have been killed
The Russian government has not released its own casualties since March 25, when it gave a total of 1,351 dead and 3,825 wounded. Western intelligence agencies believe that up to 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since the war began.
Instead, since the start of the war, the Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly issued implausible statements about its battlefield successes, boasting that it has destroyed more than 40 Western-made Himars missile launchers and claiming to have decimated the Ukrainian Air Force.
State television, the most popular source of information in Russia, similarly continues to paint a rosy picture of Russian successes in Ukraine. In a combative speech on Wednesday, Putin reiterated that Russia has “lost nothing” in a war that he said is going according to plan.
However, that optimism is not shared by others, as Ukraine encircled Balaklia on Wednesday, carrying out what has already been described as one of the most impressive strategic moves of the war and hailed as “good news” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky , on Wednesday night.
Their audience has grown
“We have to state that in Balaklia, the armed forces of Ukraine completely overpowered our administration,” Starse Eddy, a popular pro-war Russian blogger, wrote on his Telegram channel.
His Telegram audience, like that of other war bloggers, has soared since the intrusion began, from about 28,000 in January to 500,000, according to Tgstat, an analytics service for Telegram channels.
Pointing to Russia’s lack of response to the Ukrainian attack, Alexander Koch, a war journalist and friend of the Kremlin, accused the authorities on Wednesday of withholding “bad news” about the situation on the ground. “We have to start doing something about the system where our leadership doesn’t want to talk about bad news and their subordinates don’t want to upset their bosses,” he said.
For general conscription
Ukraine’s latest offensive has also led to fresh calls by far-right nationalists for general conscription, a move Putin has so far rejected, despite growing signs that the Russian military is facing an acute shortage of new soldiers.
“Conscripting is, to put it bluntly, our only chance to avoid a crushing defeat,” wrote Andrei Morozov, another popular blogger.
For now, the Kremlin seems willing to accept the criticism it receives from the group of pro-war bloggers. Girkin has repeatedly called for the firing of Defense Minister and close Putin ally Sergei Shoigu, calling in one post for the minister to be executed by firing squad.
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