While the rest of the world understands just how poorly things are going for Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, the general Russian population may not have any idea.
That’s because Russia is a dictatorship, whether anyone really wants to admit it or not. The Kremlin controls just about every aspect of daily life, including the media, making it somewhat difficult and dangerous to tell the truth, if that truth happens to make anybody in the ivory towers of Moscow look bad.
But, in a stunning development, it appears as though some of Putin’s pundits are beginning to sour on the invasion.
On Sunday, after Ukraine recaptured Lyman, a city in the east that Russian troops had used as a key logistics and transport hub, Putin’s media allies dropped the niceties and more directly criticized his military, saying tougher measures were necessary for the sake of victory.
“What happened on Saturday, Lyman – it is a serious challenge for us,” Vladimir Solovyov, host of a prime-time talk show on state TV channel Russia 1 and one of the Kremlin’s biggest cheerleaders, said on air Sunday. “We need to pull it together, make unpopular, but necessary decisions and act.”Trending:
Ukrainian forces retook Lyman one day after Moscow celebrated its illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions, including Donetsk, roughly 40% of which — now including Lyman – is under Kyiv’s control.
And that wasn’t all:
The leader of Chechnya, a Russian region in the North Caucasus, blamed the retreat in Lyman on one general. In an online post, Ramzan Kadyrov, an outspoken supporter of the Kremlin, said the general’s incompetence was being “covered up for by higher-up leaders in the General Staff,” and called for “more drastic measures” to be taken.”
A story about the Lyman retreat in Russia’s popular pro-Kremlin tabloid, Komsomolskaya Pravda, painted a bleak picture of the Russian military. The story, published Sunday, said the Russian forces in Lyman were plagued by supply and manpower shortages, poor coordination, and tactical mistakes orchestrated by military officials.
“It’s like it has always been,” according to an unnamed soldier quoted in the story who was part of the group that retreated from Lyman to Kreminna, another strategically important city that is in the sights of the Ukrainian army. “There is effectively no communication between different units.”
This unusual unwillingness to cozy up to the Kremlin’s talking points signals a major shift for Russia, and perhaps puts another nail in the coffin of Putin’s time atop the pile.