“Russia is here forever.” This motto filled posters, with children, flowers and the tricolor flag, which the Kremlin raised throughout the territory conquered in Ukraine since February 24. Despite being expected, the withdrawal to the eastern side of the Dnieper River has been received in Russia as a jug of cold water. But the reaction now is very different from that of September, when the Kremlin troops withdrew from the Kharkov province. Then, the criticism intensified. But this time the toughest have bitten their tongues. These voices attribute the measure to mistakes made in the past, before the appointment of the new commander of their combined forces, Sergei Surovikin. And they cite as one of these failures a mobilization that they consider late. However, Russian soldiers, politicians and war analysts agree that sooner or later they will return to Kherson. They consider that it is only a matter of reinforcing themselves again.
According to the independent newspaper published on Wednesday Viortskathe Kremlin has asked state media to quote as little as possible from the most critical wing of its own politicians, including the head of the Defense Committee of the State Duma (lower house), Andrei Kartapolov, and other deputies who are also generals. , like Andrei Gurulev and Andrei Krasov.
Of all of them, the only one that has spoken about the withdrawal is Krasov. The political-military stressed: “It is necessary to fight defensive battles, regroup our forces somewhere and wait for our mobilized to be ready for combat.” “Russia will fulfill her historic mission and we will free Ukraine from Nazism,” he warned in an interview with the official media Life.
Withdrawal has been in the air since Surovikin’s arrival as the sole commander of the Russian Armed Forces in the war against Ukraine. “Not only did I assume, but I knew the final decision on Kherson at least two weeks ago,” one of the best-known faces of the separatists in the eastern Donbas region, the commander of the Vostok battalion, Alexánder Khodakovski, told on his Telegram channel. . “The situation was also aggravated by the fact that our joint command considered us less than optimal, not for rational reasons in assessing our real potential, but for reasons incomprehensible to us,” criticized Khodakovski, a former head of the Ukrainian special forces before changing side, in 2014.
“It’s hard, it’s bitter,” admitted the soldier, although he stressed that this is not the end of the war. “We are at the forefront, but very serious work is also being done in the rear: new communications systems, new types of drones are being tested and new tactics are being tested,” said the military officer. “The enemy fought and outmatched us with advanced military technologies,” he admits, although he stresses once again that Russia will strike again: “When we have improved our capabilities, we will bring the conversation into our language.”
Two of the best-known voices among the ultra-Russian elite, businessman Yevgueni Prigozhin and Chechen president Ramzán Kadírov, defended the decision of the Russian high command after having put the fired general Alexander Lapin in the spotlight for the defeats of the last months. “We will not get tired and we will not stop hitting the enemy!” Kadirov wrote on his social networks after showing his support “for taking a more advantageous strategic position.”
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In a similar line, the well-known Russian military correspondent Alexander Sladkov has expressed himself. “Yesterday was a tough day, but it is a stage of a long journey. Years of conflict are yet to come, there will be defeats and victories”, he predicted on his social networks. The analyst stressed that the Kherson troops had not rotated since practically February and their material losses “have been significant.” “Personnel losses were compensated only at the beginning of the mobilization [a finales de septiembre]but it must be understood that the quality of the training of the mobilized, and I will say this carefully, has been poor and does not meet the standards of modern warfare,” admitted Sladkov.
The militarist channel TopWar, one of the referents of the most militaristic Russian sector, shared a column highlighting the blow suffered. “In the absence of a successful occupation of large settlements and progress in the winter offensive, military failures will accumulate internal discontent more serious than sanctions,” Boris Rozhin wrote.
As the conflict progresses, a new type of protester has emerged. A man was arrested outside the Kremlin shortly after the high command announced Kherson’s surrender. According to the Baza channel, he stood at the entrance to Red Square, in front of the Spasskaya tower, recognizable by its unmistakable clock, with a sign where he had written “Traitors, you screwed up everything.” The man was immediately taken to the police station, where two proceedings were opened against him. One for violating the new law that prohibits discrediting the Armed Forces, whose maximum punishment can reach 15 years in prison in the most serious case, and another for participating in an unauthorized demonstration. In Russia, even individual pickets need the approval of the authorities, and many are banned under the excuse of the coronavirus.
The withdrawal from Kherson has fueled the ironic Russian mood. One of the viral memes precisely joked that there is no escape from the new Russian laws. “Do you support the withdrawal from Jersón?”, Headed the image with two arrows. The Yes It led to article 280.1 of the Penal Code, which punishes with prison any public call for the fragmentation of Russian territory (Kherson was formally annexed a little over a month ago). The Nomeanwhile, implies being judged by article 280.3, which pursues any action aimed at discrediting the army.
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