Team Putin Spars Over Baffling Russian ‘Victory Plan’ in War

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Reuters

It appears that even the most ardent pro-Kremlin propagandists are still struggling to explain Vladimir Putin’s murky goal of “demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine” more than a year into the invasion.

With Russian war efforts stalling and faltering on the ground, Putin’s talking heads are struggling to get on the same page about what a “Russian victory” actually looks like, leaving state television brimming with clashes and contradictions.

In Monday’s broadcast of the popular talk show The Meeting Place, none of the panelists appeared to have a clear understanding of Moscow’s end-goals in the war—much less how they may be achieved.

“During the last year and two months since the start of the special operation, I’ve traveled dozens of times throughout the country... Every time I am asked: ‘Why is it taking so long, why isn’t it more decisive? To put it harshly, why aren’t we destroying them like rats?,” host Andrey Norkin said.

It did not take very long for that comment to blow up in Norkin’s face.

Kremlin TV Stars Combust as Russians Admit War Is Aimless

“You know, when you say that your audience, your viewers are asking you why we aren't being more harsh, why aren’t we destroying all of them like rats, I would answer them with a question,” political analyst Viktor Olevich said, addressing the host. ‘“Are you ready for all of your children to die, to be pulverized in the trenches? Do you want for all of them to end up there?’”

A seemingly frazzled Norkin snapped back: “They are asking this question because they don’t want that… who was saying to bomb, to bomb and to bomb them some more?” referring to past comments made by Olevich.

The expert, in turn, simply concluded that his prior remarks about bombing Ukraine to hell were “no longer relevant, because Russia currently lacks resources to establish control over Ukraine and won’t get these resources in the near future.”

That wasn’t the only point of contention on the broadcast.

In a truly Orwellian display of doublespeak, State Duma member Alexander Kazakov declared that the war should end only in a complete Russian victory. “I am for peace, I am anti-war. I am for peace after our victory,” he said.

When asked what his exact definition of victory was, he delved into fantasy. “We get to the borders of NATO, either through our military or diplomatic efforts, Ukraine disappears from the political map,” said Kazakov. “As a result of that, the United States gets out of Eurasia and along with China, India and other leading countries on this continent, we will set our own rules.”

Bogdan Bezpalko—a member of the Kremlin’s Council for Interethnic Relations, which acts as an advisory committee to Putin—had a much more straightforward definition of Russian victory. He described it simply as “the destruction of Ukraine’s nationhood.”

Co-host Ivan Trushkin flatly dismissed his guests’ answers, deriding them as “a call to surrender,” before offering up his own, painfully vague idea of when Moscow can officially claim triumph.

A Kremlin win, he said, would be the “elimination of a threat… Whatever that looks like, whether reaching certain borders or signing some kind of an agreement, we should stop feeling the existential threat to our nation. This would constitute victory.”

Top Putin Lackey Urges Russians to Choose Violent Death Over War Defeat

Similar conversations are taking place across all state-funded “news” networks in Russian.

Earlier this month, state Duma member Andrey Gurulyov berated expert Dmitry Abzalov for admitting his unwillingness to perish in a nuclear war and pushing for Russia’s “operation” to conclude as soon as possible.

The Monday broadcast, too, featured a rare moment of brutal honesty on Russian state television, with one panelist offering up a particularly grim prophecy about Putin’s end game.

“What would victory look like? We can see it by looking at Bakhmut, the city where 70,000 people used to live, with children and kindergartens. It was simply wiped off the face of the earth. Everyone who could escape from there did just that,” former state Duma deputy Boris Nadezhdin said, appearing exasperated.

“If victory means conquering ruins without the people, I don’t know who needs this kind of victory... In some Russian cities, they are running out of men,” he added. “The sooner this horror comes to an end, the better it will be for Ukrainians and Russians alike.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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