In the Thick of ItA blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship
Russia’s Party of War Calls Kherson Retreat 'Black Page,' Concerned Peace May Be Next
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Nov. 9 that it was withdrawing its forces to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Ukraine’s Kherson region. The withdrawal, which the Russian top brass began to hint about in mid-October, means that Russia is abandoning the city of Kherson, which has been the only Ukrainian regional capital that Russian forces have managed to capture since the beginning of the invasion in February. Mouthpieces of Russia’s party of war view the withdrawal not only as a significant military setback, but also as a major embarrassment for Russia’s political leadership, whose members declared in Kherson in May that “Russia is here forever.” Significantly, in addition to uttering some harsh words regarding the Russian military top brass’ performance in southern Ukraine, some of the most outspoken representatives of the party of war are also now concerned that the retreat from Kherson will be followed by Russia’s political leadership suing for peace (in fact, there are some signs that this might be the case). See our selection of these comments from Telegram below:
- “This is the loss of territories that the Russian Federation recognized as its own ... The reasons for this lie in the reports of the officials who, starting from 2020 (when the fundamental decision regarding the special military operation was made), were saying that everything was excellent... The reasons for this lie in the situational political and military impotence, which was generated by the belief in one's own exclusivity, infallibility and invulnerability... If we now also sign peace with Ukraine... well, it will be a tasty spit on the patriotic, core stratum of Russian society,” Rybar, one of the most popular Russian pro-war Telegram channels, wrote on Nov. 9. (RM, 11.09.22)
- “History will remember this day as the Day of the surrender of a Russian region without a fight. Even vacuum non-nuclear bombs were not used. The question is [why] do we need a 1.2 million army in the rear… To paint the borders and march for days?” wrote one of the most popular Russian pro-war Telegram Channels, “Zloi Zhurnalist” (Angry Journalist). “Our [side] is actively seeking peace [with Ukraine], they wrote. (RM, 11.09.22)
- “From a military point of view, this is the most serious military defeat of the Russian Federation since 1991. In our case, this is already the 3rd serious military defeat after Balakleya and Krasny Liman,” wrote Yuri Kotyonok, one of most prominent Russian so-called war correspondents and owner of the popular pro-war Telegram channel “Kotyonok Z.”
- “This is a black page in the history of the Russian Army,” Semyon Pegov, owner of the popular Wargonzo Telegram channel and one of the most prominent of Russia’s so-called war correspondents wrote in a post published on Nov. 9 and partially reposted by editors of another popular pro-war Russian Telegram channel, Dva Mayora (Two Majors). (RM, 11.09.22)
- “This betrayal is now carved up on my heart for centuries,” Zastavny, a popular blogger, said in a post on Telegram. (NYT, 11.09.22)
- Vladlen Tatarsky, a popular blogger and activist, reacted to the news about Kherson by saying that Russia’s overall plan for war was “idiotic” and “based on disinformation.” (NYT, 11.09.22)
This item is part of Russia Matters’ “Clues from Russian Views” series, in which we share what newsmakers in/from Russia are saying on Russia-related issues that impact key U.S. national interests so that RM readers can glean clues about their thinking.
The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individuals quoted. Photo by www.mil.gov.ua shared under a Creative Commons license.