A retired Russian military colonel spoke frankly about his country’s invasion of Ukraine in a segment on Russian propaganda TV this week.
Mikhail Khodarenok was speaking on Russia-1, a major television channel owned by the Russian government, on Monday.
Criticism of the government’s version of facts is rare, if not all but unheard of, in Russia.
Extraordinary exchange on Russian state TV’s top talk show about Ukraine. Military analyst & retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok tells anchor Olga Skabeyeva “the situation for us will clearly get worse…we’re in total geopolitical isolation…the situation is not normal.” pic.twitter.com/ExMwVDszsk
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) May 16, 2022
“You shouldn’t take informational sedatives,” said Khodarenok to anchor Olga Skabeyeva, referencing bogus claims of dramatic victories over the Ukrainian military from Kremlin propagandists, as reported in a tweet and website post by the BBC’s Russia editor Steve Rosenberg.
Khodarenkok is a retired career officer in the air defense component of Russia’s military.
“You hear reports about a moral and psychological breakdown among the Ukrainian armed forces. .. To put it mildly, this is not true.”
Khodarenok referenced Russia’s precarious geopolitical situation in the segment, admitting that the invasion had made the country a global pariah.
“The biggest problem with our military and political situation is that we are in total geopolitical isolation.”
“The whole world is against us, even if we don’t want to admit it. We need to resolve this situation,” said the retired colonel, in a rare call for the end of the war on Russian state television.
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Khodarenok referenced a new Lend-Lease program authorized by the United States Congress to arm and equip the Ukrainian military, admitting that the exchange amounted to a serious threat to the Russian military.
Criticism of the Russian military strategy in Ukraine has been all but criminalized in Russia, where the government holds a near-universal grip on the media.
President Vladimir Putin had indicated he expected Ukraine to submit to Russian occupation within days of the initial February invasion.
Putin called on the Ukrainian military to depose Volodymyr Zelenskyy from power at the onset of the war, clearing the way for a Russian puppet regime that would keep Ukraine out of NATO and the European Union.
Instead, casualties of the disastrous “special military operation” now range in the tens of thousands, with Russia only able to secure one major Ukrainian city.
The Ukrainian military’s capabilities have been boosted by constant weapons imports from western countries, with Russia incurring massive losses of weapons and experienced troops.
Attempts to end the war with a diplomatic solution devolved in April, leaving the two nations now locked in fierce combat in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.