Russian propagandists believe defeat in Ukraine is a ‘foregone’ event

Putin puppet claims Russia will win Ukraine when West 'unravels'

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Russian propagandists believe that defeat in the war is a “foregone conclusion” and are now just thinking about “how to lose” without being humiliated, a Ukrainian official has claimed. Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, claimed that Ukraine “have already won” and that the “rhetoric of all Kremlin propagandists” has started to reflect that “they themselves are well aware of it”. On Tuesday, one of Russia’s most prolific military bloggers, a former Russian commander named Ivor Girkin, returned to Telegram after two months on the frontlines to decry the “protracted” war effort as a “suicide” mission. In comments seen by nearly 1 million Russians, Girkin later called General Sergei Surovoikin, who in October was appointed the head of operations in Ukraine, as “completely insane and useless”. 

Mr Budanov said: “Ukraine has already won. Everyone in the world already feels it and we understand it. Yes, it will be difficult for a certain period, but globally it will not change anything.

“I think you have seen that over the last three months, the rhetoric of all Kremlin propagandists has changed dramatically.

“First, they started to cautiously criticise their leadership, then – the top generals, and now they have reached the point where their victory is out of the question, they’re thinking about how just not to lose, but everyone understands that this is impossible. Their defeat is already obvious.

“Once again, there will be some more difficult times, but the Russian defeat is a foregone conclusion and they themselves are well aware of it.”

Propaganda in Russia is a strategy peddled not just by Kremlin officials but by military bloggers, known as milbloggers, on platforms like Telegram. 

Roughly a quarter of Russia’s population use Telegram, though other figures suggest there are as many as 77 million users, and nine of the ten most popular political channels spread Kremlin pro-war narratives. 

Dissent against the Kremlin and the war’s generals, however, is becoming increasingly frequent on the messaging site. 

On Tuesday, Igor Girkin, a prominent voice on the platform, accused Russia of suffering from a “crisis of strategic planning” whereby there are little to no tactical plans in place and none of the soldiers are cohering around a wider goal. 

He suggested that thousands of Russian soldiers, faced with a lack of information from higher-ups, did not know why they were fighting nor what an end to the war might look like, and as a result had grown apathetic towards fighting. 

He said “the absence of a clear military-political strategy does not allow the military to develop tactics that will contribute” to success at the front.

He added: “Therefore, watching how the enemy [Ukraine] slowly (and without encountering any opposition) implements his own strategic tasks against the complete passivity of the military and political authorities of the Russian Federation, I do not expect anything good at the front in the coming weeks.”

In further signs that Russian officials are battling against a wave of defeatism, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov subsequently urged the public to ignore “provocative messages” posted on Telegram. 

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On Wednesday morning, the British Ministry of Defence joined in the chorus of criticism of Russian officials, writing that “impartial official analysis” in the Kremlin had fallen victim to “politically expedient conclusions”. 

It stated: “Paucity in strategic assessment is one of the critical weaknesses in the central Russian government architecture: as highlighted by Russia’s original decision to invade Ukraine.

“Impartial official analysis is almost certainly frequently undermined by a tendency toward group-think and politically expedient conclusions.”

It later reported that Russia was beginning to build defence systems in Belgorod and Kursk, within Russian territory, based on “false beliefs” that Ukraine would advance over the border. 

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