Russian TV pundits slam Ukraine war – cracks appear in Putin’s propaganda machine

Russia: Expert says Putin’s plan ‘pretty awful’

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Prominent Kremlin supporter Yakov Kedmi slammed Russia’s war in an interview with a state television presenter. He said: “If you don’t take cities you achieve nothing. Not a single city has been taken.”

The Moscow-born former Israeli diplomat added: “What was the strategic plan? Walk around the walls of Jericho and blow trumpets until the authorities surrender? That’s a Biblical legend.”

He suggested the Kremlin sacrificed the lives of young Russian soldiers in vain, saying: “Was this all started just to get [President] Zelensky to recognise Crimea?

“To bury 500 soldiers, officers, so that Zelensky recognises Crimea? Not a single sanction against Russia will be withdrawn. It’s not clear what’s going on. What are the aims?”

The 75-year-old was speaking during an online talk show hosted by Vladimir Solovyov, a well-known television presenter in Russia.

Mr Solovyov – whose luxury home on Lake Como was recently seized by the European Union – replied: “My mood is already heavy and you with your pessimism are making me totally sad.”

He went on to admit that even if Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to recognise Russian rule in Crimea, the move was unlikely to be approved by the country’s parliament.

Russia’s rising death toll and the humanitarian disaster has prompted comparisons to the Soviet Union’s conflict in Afghanistan.

Ukraine says its forces have killed more than 12,000 Russian troops while the Kremlin has confirmed about 500 losses. Neither side has disclosed the number of Ukrainian casualties.

The United Nations estimates 1,500 civilians have been killed or injured, though Ukrainian officials predict a much higher death toll.

Pundit Semyon Bagdasarov said on the state-run Rossiya 1: “Do we need to get into another Afghanistan, but even worse?”

Speaking out on one of the country’s top two television channels, Mr Bagdasarov’s views were backed by Karen Shakhnazarov, another state television analyst.

He said: “I have a hard time imagining taking cities such as Kyiv. I can’t imagine how that would look.

“Public opinion within Russia is changing. People are shocked by the masses of refugees, the humanitarian catastrophe, people start to imagine themselves in their place. It’s starting to affect them.

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“We would need to bring in 1.5 million soldiers to control [Ukraine]. The most important thing is to cease our military action.

“Others will say that sanctions will remain. Yes, they will remain, but in my opinion discontinuing the active phase of a military operation is very important.”

He added that Moscow had been mistaken or misled in its apparent belief Ukrainians would surrender or greet Russian troops as liberators.

Mr Shakhnazarov said: “We aren’t seeing any particular welcome from Ukrainian citizens. It seemed that [Ukrainians], aside from the nationalists, wouldn’t fight.

“But they are fighting. Let’s not deny reality. They have become a united nation.”

His remarks are in stark contrast to Putin’s claim that the war is a “special military operation”.

They also come after a Kremlin crackdown on foreign and domestic news organisations with journalists based in Russia.

A new law in Russia threatens jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading what the Kremlin calls “fake news”.

The law makes it illegal to report any event that could discredit the country’s military.

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