While there is no progress in the Ukraine war, Russia is concerned about the impending counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army.
Moscow – Concerns about the Ukrainian counteroffensive are spreading in the Kremlin – at least that's what Yevgeny Chichvarkin, Russian entrepreneur and confidant of Putin critic Alexei Navalny, claims. On his YouTube channel, the 48-year-old spoke in a video of an "industry of fear" that prevails within the Russian armed forces and has now also reached the Russian leadership.
Ukraine war: Russia trembles at the prospect of a possible counteroffensive
The reason: Moscow still does not know when and where the long-awaited counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army will start. Even Western analysts are still unsure about this. The only thing that is certain is that Kiev wants to retaliate in the Ukraine war before the end of this year. Russian President Vladimir Putin is particularly worried, Chichvarkin said. After all, the head of state knows that "non-winners" are "neither loved nor respected" in Russia. "The whole world, the strongest economies in the world, stand with Ukraine and support it," he added. "Time," Chichvarkin said, "is not running out for Putin."
Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov (left) talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Archive photo) © Gavriil Grigorov/AFP
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In fact, there has been unrest in the Russian power and military apparatus for months, and Putin has filled important positions several times. His chief of staff, Valery Gerasimov, has been publicly criticized several times by Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group. Prigozhin also attacked Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, whom he accused of poor warfare and a lack of ammunition for Wagner fighters.
Meanwhile, according to research by investigative journalists, Russia's military accidentally published a text about problems in mobilizing for the war in the neighboring country – and deleted it shortly afterwards. The Russian portal The Insider published the link to an entry in the web archive, where the text can still be viewed. In the document, Russian mobilization officer Yevgeny Burdinsky named two main problems with regard to the wave of recruitment last fall: "the unwillingness of part of society to perform military duties" and "the provision of military equipment and the accommodation of personnel."
Russia's concern about Ukrainian counteroffensive: reports of "nervousness and uncertainty"
As for the Ukrainian counteroffensive, puzzles continue both in the West and in Russia. While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a few days ago that the military was "ready", other officials in Kiev were once again sowing doubts. On Telegram, Hanna Maliar, Ukraine's deputy defense minister, said there would be "no launch announcement" for the counteroffensive. In addition, she mentioned that "plans love silence." Her counterpart, Volodymyr Havrylov, told Reuters that they would retaliate "with the aim of liberating our territories this year."
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Despite this, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) estimates that the counteroffensive is imminent. In a report, the U.S. think tank bases this assessment, among other things, on the "Russian overemphasis on smaller tactical battles." According to the report, the Russian Defense Ministry had claimed to have thwarted a "major Ukrainian offensive" in the south of the Donetsk region. "The enemy's goal was to break through our defenses on the part of the front that he considered most vulnerable," spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying by the state agency Tass. Ukraine would have lost more than 250 soldiers in the process – but these claims could not be independently verified.
According to the ISW, the current propaganda from Moscow also suggests that "nervousness and insecurity" are rising in the ranks of the Kremlin. (nak)