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Russian parliament defense committee chief to military: 'Stop lying' about Ukraine losses

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/5/2022 Tom Rogan
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Russian forces are retreating on both the eastern and southern Ukrainian fronts. Russian forces around the southern city of Kherson, the Dnieper River-bordering gateway to Crimea and the Sea of Azov, face an especially critical situation. Russian President Vladimir Putin will soon have to choose between a full-scale retreat or the Hail Mary employment of nuclear weapons.

Even Putin's top supporters recognize that Russia has a big problem.

Take the chairman of the Russian parliament's defense committee, Andrey Kartapolov. A retired top-ranking military officer who previously commanded the Western Military District (which has operational responsibility for areas of Ukraine outside of Crimea), Kartapolov was parachuted into the Duma last September as a reward for his loyalty. But Kartapolov offered no spin on Wednesday. "We need to stop lying," he said on a prime-time state TV show. Condemning the defense ministry's rose-tinted reporting on the war in Ukraine, Kartapolov explained that the country's credibility was being undermined by the public's awareness of major losses. "The people know, our people are not stupid," he said. This is a marked change from Kartapolov's rhetoric in April, when he proclaimed that the war would lead to a majestic shift in "world order."

WHY PUTIN AND ZELENSKY ARE ESCALATING THEIR CONFLICT

Yet Kartapolov is far from alone in his anguish. Top TV propagandists are now calling for deserting officers to be shot. Apparently energized rather than mollified by Putin's recent promotion of him to the rank of colonel-general, the president's Chechen viceroy Ramzan Kadyrov is making increasing waves on his Telegram channel. Kadyrov has been complaining about the Russian military's performance in Ukraine for six months now and says he'll send his teenage sons to the front line.

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However, the signs of chaos are growing. Putin has now relieved the commander of the Western Military District, but it's unclear what good that will do. Forbes-Russia reports that 700,000 citizens have abandoned Russian territory since Putin's introduction of a partial draft last month. But facing the predictably terrible treatment of these conscripts (many of whom are having to buy their own equipment from extortionist military suppliers), the Kremlin is panicking. It has apologized for mobilization errors and keeps expanding a list of waivers from service. This is clearly designed to placate the middle class, albeit at the expense of rural and ethnic-minority populations.

This crisis is not one that Putin can easily resolve. While Putin's rule remains stable for now, it is very hard to see how he can fix his military's inability to conduct combined arms offensive operations in Ukraine. So, expect more rhetoric from officials like Kartapolov, more pressure on Putin, and thus more risk of a major escalation.

 

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Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, War in Ukraine, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Foreign Policy, National Security

Original Author: Tom Rogan

Original Location: Russian parliament defense committee chief to military: 'Stop lying' about Ukraine losses

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