Some Russian officers fighting in Ukraine unhappy with Putin: report
Some Russian officers fighting in Ukraine are unhappy with senior military brass and President Vladimir Putin over the war’s poor execution, an influential Russian nationalist blogger said after visiting the conflict zone, Reuters reported.
Almost 10 months after Putin sent troops to Ukraine, the end of Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II is not in sight.
In modern Russia, direct public criticism of Putin is rare, although nationalist bloggers have been outspoken about the conduct of the war, especially the costly Russian defeats in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region in September.
Igor Girkin, a nationalist and former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014 and then organized pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, said there had some dissatisfaction with senior brass, Reuters reported.
In a scathing 90-minute video analyzing Russia’s execution of the war, Girkin said “the fish’s head is completely rotten” and that the Russian military needs reform and recruiting people. capable of leading a successful military campaign.
Some at middle levels of the military, Girkin said, have openly expressed their displeasure with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and even Putin.
“It’s not just me… people aren’t blind and deaf at all: the mid-level people there don’t even hide their opinions which, how to say, aren’t totally complimentary to the regard to the president or the defense minister,” Girkin said.
The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on remarks by Girkin who repeatedly criticized Shoigu, a close ally of Putin, for the battlefield defeats Russia suffered during the war.
Both Ukraine and Russia claim that the other side suffered devastating losses, although neither gave clear data on its own losses.
The US Chief General estimated on November 9 that Russia and Ukraine each had seen more than 100,000 of their troops killed or wounded. The number of civilian deaths is unknown.
Shortly after the invasion, Russia passed laws that allow prison sentences of up to five years for actions interpreted as discrediting the armed forces, or up to 15 years for deliberately spreading false information.
Last week Putin used the word ‘war’ to describe the conflict, which he dates to the start in 2014 when a pro-Russian president was overthrown in Ukraine’s Maidan revolution and Russia annexed Crimea , with Russian-backed separatist forces fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Putin presents what he calls Russia’s “special military operation” as a watershed moment when Russia finally stood up to the arrogant, US-led West after decades of humiliation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Russia, Putin says, is defending the Russians in Ukraine against a decadent West that ultimately wants to divide up Russia’s vast resources and eradicate Russian civilization. The West denies such a plot.
Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for what they present as an imperial-style war of occupation. Ukraine says it will fight until the last Russian soldier is expelled from its territory.
The West, Girkin said, wanted to foment a revolutionary situation in Russia similar to the February Revolution of 1917, when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated amid popular and elite anger over Russian failures in World War I.
Russia, he said, lacked effective tactical missiles and it was unclear whether it could produce enough of them as Russia had failed to establish air superiority due to Ukrainian air defences.
“Our Ministry of Defense has just been asleep as the whole world has moved to new tactical aviation,” he said.
Girkin was convicted in absentia by Dutch judges of murder for his role in the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of 298 passengers and crew. Russia, which has repeatedly denied shooting down the plane, rejected the verdict.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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