Retired colonel stuns colleagues by saying invasion wasn’t going well on Russian talk show

On Monday, a military analyst for one of Russia’s most popular networks on state television said the Ukrainian conflict was worsening for Russia, and his panelists remained silent in shock, giving the kind of honesty that has all but disappeared from official broadcasts. evaluation of.

“Our situation is clearly going to get worse,” Mikhail M. Khodaryonok, a retired colonel and conservative columnist on military affairs, said on the Rossiya Network’s “60 Minutes” talk show.

In a rare moment of candid analysis in a country criticizing war efforts that could lead to jail time, broadcasters generally stuck to the Kremlin’s talking points.

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The issues Khodaryonok mentioned, sometimes indirect, included low morale, a string of Western alliances with Russia and the number of fighter jets and materiel Ukraine was amassing.

“We are completely isolated geopolitically and the whole world is against us, even if we don’t want to admit it,” Khodalyonok said, noting Russia’s “military-political and military-technical resources are limited.”

He urged Russians not to take “information sedatives”. The clip was first highlighted by Francis Scarr of BBC Monitoring, which tracks Russian broadcasts. Khodaryonok did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Aside from questioning Russia’s position, it was a remarkable moment, as Khodaryonok noted that Ukraine appeared to have momentum. He said the Russians were wrongly inclined to discredit their entire army by trying to infer the problems of a small number of soldiers in the Ukrainian army. In fact, if they get enough weapons, they’re ready to deploy a million soldiers, and they’re highly motivated, and they’ll get more and more military support from the US and Europe, he added.

News talk shows in Russia are often a shouting match, with six panelists vying to overwhelm the others. In this episode, however, the rest of the panel was dumbfounded and kept silent. Only host Olga Skabeyeva, who religiously follows the Kremlin’s line, was interrupted by official talking points in the sometimes tense exchange.

She tried to point out that support from China and India is as good as support from Europe, that maybe professional soldiers are superior to conscripts, and that Russia “has no choice”, which the Kremlin invaded by seeing Ukraine as a threat Standard reason.

Khodalyonok seemed careful not to publicly criticize the Russian side, repeatedly stressing that the whole situation was “not normal”. For example, when it comes to morale, he looks back at history and points out that Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin have said that high morale is an important factor in success on the battlefield. He made no direct reference to recent signs of Russian military morale problems.

In March, Russia criminalized condemning its war effort, even calling it a war rather than a “special military operation.”

Khodaryonok has been critical of Russian military operations in the past. In an unusual column published in early February before the invasion, he warned against doing so, saying it would not be as easy as many Russian analysts had hoped and would not serve Russia’s “national interest.”

He accurately predicted that the Ukrainians would fight to defend their country and that the West would provide a wide range of weapons. “There will be no blitzkrieg in Ukraine,” he wrote in Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, a supplement to the weekly Russian military affairs newspaper.

Even earlier, about a year after Russia sent troops to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, he wrote an op-ed for the internet news service Gazeta.Ru suggesting that the Syrian army was an unworthy ally, citing its lack of military success and corruption.

However, with regard to the war in Ukraine, he has previously praised Russia’s efforts.

In a Telegram channel comment posted a week ago, he said military theorists in the years ahead would see the special operation as something “unique”. He said Russia’s progress in the eastern Donbas region was due to the discipline, training and morale of its troops, as well as the effectiveness of its artillery. He also reiterated Russia’s baseless claim that the Ukrainian side nurtured Nazis.

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