– A system of lies – VG

IN EXERCISE: Vladimir Putin photographed during the “Vostok 2022” exercise recently. The picture was taken in Orenburg.

Criticism of the way the war is being waged is growing stronger. Vladimir Putin (69) apparently allows it – as long as no one asks whether it is right to wage war or not, an expert believes.

Published:

Updated yesterday 07:03

Both key people around Putin and the Russian media have come up with startling criticism in recent days.

– A system of lies, not from the bottom to the top, but from the top to the bottom, Andrey Gurulyov, former deputy commander of the Southern Military District, said on the Rossiya-1 TV channel at the weekend – reproduced by Russian Media Monitorwhen he was asked to explain how it was possible to be beaten back by the Ukrainians at the important junction of Lyman.

He was in the program digitally, and immediately afterwards the line was cut – but it is unclear whether it was due to a technical error or that he became too loose. Guruljov returned in the program, but did not say anything more about this.

In any case, key figures such as Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the leader of the private army Wagner groups Yevgeny Prigozhin have also been on the path of criticism in recent days – and the major newspapers Komsomolskaja Pravda reported unexpectedly openly about the retreat from Lyman at the weekend: Russian soldiers fled with “empty eyes” from the city, writes one of Russia’s best-known war correspondents, Aleksandr Kots.

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MEETING: Vladimir Putin recently met Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Not only that: He also writes that the Russian commanders chose to leave Lyman, as there was too great a risk of being surrounded and captured. And the Russian troops are characterized by desertion and poor planning.

– We must overcome these temporary difficulties. Of course we will win, says an officer to the newspaper.

Although Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov is controversial, what he says is also interesting:

– Yesterday there was a parade in Izium, today the Ukrainian flag is in Lyman. What will happen tomorrow, he says about the Russian defeats, according to Medusa.

At the weekend, the same Kadyrov also left a message Telegram there he advocated the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Kadyrov blamed the loss in Lyman on the head of the military district, Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin, reports Pravda. He accused Lapin of being a “mediocre” who is being defended by the top brass in the General Staff.

MOBILISED: Two anonymous men are getting ready to get on the bus who mobilized for the war in Ukraine. The picture was taken in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Startlingly, support for Kadyrov emerged from Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man behind the private army of mercenaries, the Wagner group. Prigozhin is also known as “Putin’s chef”, because he got rich from catering deals with the Kremlin. The same man was – even before the mobilization – out in prisons and penal camps and offered prisoners freedom in return for fighting in the war in Ukraine.

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– Kadyrov’s expressive statement is of course not in my style. But I can say: Ramzan is a handsome fellow, Prigozhin said according to Meduza, which is an independent Russian website whose editors have fled to Latvia.

This is not the first time Ramzan Kadyrov has criticized the Russian army – and is supported by Prigozhin. A few weeks ago, Kadyrov believed that 50 percent of the Russian “siloviki” (those who work in the Armed Forces, police, border forces, customs, intelligence, etc.) should be mobilized to the front. He was supported by Prigozhin, writes Meduza.

– So far, a certain amount of criticism is allowed in Russia, concludes Peter Viggo Jakobsen at the Department of Strategy and War Studies at the Danish Defense Academy, to VG.

– With an important but: It applies as long as it is not at issue whether it is right or wrong to wage the war – or that the war was started. Criticism is allowed as long as it is about the best way to win the war.

– But is this a criticism of or a support for Putin?

– Immediately, I see it as support for Putin. Not least when the Chechen leader starts talking about the use of nuclear weapons, something Putin has talked about as a possible way to defend the recently annexed parts of Ukraine, I see it as a statement that strengthens Putin’s threat. That means that Putin gets the backing to do it. And it is about creating more fear in the West. That makes it even more credible that Russia is willing to take the extreme step, says Peter Viggo Jakobsen.

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PUTIN SUPPORT: A man has stood outside the parliament in Moscow in support of Vladimir Putin. “And you?”, he asks on the poster.

Meduza has spoken to sources close to the Kremlin who believe it is no coincidence that Kadyrov and Prigozhin make similar statements. Both are seen as part of the “war party”, that is, those who are furthest to the right and most concerned with escalating the war.

Meduza’s sources speak of Prigozhin and his Wagner group being in conflict with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the army. Reference is also made to an alleged verbal skirmish between the two even before the war started, with the use of “obscene expressions”, which Medusa describes it.

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