Losses in Ukraine Prompt Debate on Russian TV

As Russia suffered its most humiliating defeat since the early stages of the war in Ukraine, cracks appeared in the official narrative as lawmakers and pundits on state television cast doubt on the Moscow outlook.

While some urged the Kremlin to begin peace talks, others demanded that their forces be doubled. Differences of opinion, even on tightly controlled state television networks, show how quickly Moscow’s narrative has shifted from the belief that it is only a matter of time before Russia subjugates Ukraine. to a sense of alarm at the rapid progress of Kyiv forces. And it was a contrast to the muted response after Russia’s attempt to capture Kyiv failed in the spring.

On Friday, as Russia’s front line in northeastern Ukraine collapsed, Boris Nadezhdin, a Russian city lawmaker, told viewers of a political talk show on NTV, a state television channel, was once unspeakable: Moscow cannot, under current conditions, not win this war.

“We have now come to understand that it is absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using the resources and methods of war,” said Nadezhdin, who holds the position of deputy city government in a nearby town. colony that Russia is trying to fight. Moscow. “The Russian army is fighting against a strong army that is fully supported by the most powerful countries economically and technologically.”

Mr. Nadezhdin suggested that peace talks should be started – a suggestion vehemently rejected by others on the set, who argued that Russia could not give up its existing war against NATO.

Aleksandr Kazakov, a member of the Duma, Russia’s lower house, said: “We have been dealt a very serious psychological blow. “We must destroy the infrastructure that is being used for military purposes.”

Others question the main ideological reason Russian President Putin used to launch the invasion – that Russians and Ukrainians form one country.

“We cannot expect their affection if we tell Ukrainians that they do not exist as a people, that there is no Ukrainian language,” said Viktor Olevich, a political scientist.

Speaking on the talk show Rossiya-1, Russia’s main state television channel, Aleksei Fenenko, a lecturer at Moscow State University, said that Moscow must admit that it faces a formidable opponent. in Ukraine.

“We must admit that Ukraine has rallied against us,” Mr. Fenenko said. “We must treat it as a serious and dangerous opponent.”

Vitaly Tretyakov, a political scientist, warned viewers on Monday that unmet expectations of the war could create social upheaval if Russians realize that their country is losing. the.

“There is a huge confidence in our victory, but this confidence needs to be backed up by real progress,” he said. on Thursday on Rossiya-1.

“Social tension can arise not because the population opposes the activism, but because they may ask why it is not working, why is there no victory, no progress?” he said.

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