As Russia’s beleaguered military bumbles on the world stage, criticism of Russian leader Vladimir Putin is rising at home.
A Ukraine offensive has driven Russian forces from multiple positions in the Kharkiv region in the northeast of Ukraine and around Kherson in the south, according to The New York Times. The offensive thrust means that many territorial gains Russia realized in a war that began almost seven months ago amid expectations of a lightning success have been shown to be illusions.
“Strength is the only source of Putin’s legitimacy,” said Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Putin who now lives in Israel, according to The New York Times. “And in a situation in which it turns out that he has no strength, his legitimacy will start dropping toward zero.”
New reports that translate Russian-language communications indicate that, at the local level, sagging confidence in the war is yielding calls for change.
Russia on Sunday acknowledged that it had lost nearly all of the Kharkiv region after a blitzkrieg thrust by Ukrainian forces that cast doubt on a premise — widely held in Moscow and parts of the West — that Ukraine could never defeat Russia. https://t.co/HeA3zx62ty
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 11, 2022
“The rhetoric that you and your subordinates are using has been riddled with intolerance and aggression for a long time, which in the end effectively threw our country back into the Cold War era,” the Lomonosovsky District Council in Moscow wrote in a letter to Putin, according to a translation reported by Just the News.
“Russia has again begun to be feared and hated, we again threaten the whole world with nuclear weapons,” the letter stated, calling for Putin to resign because his policies are “hopelessly outdated and hinder the development of Russia.”
A letter posted to Twitter by Dmitry Palyuga, a deputy with the Smolninskoye municipal council in St. Petersburg, said local legislators want Putin removed over his “special military operation” against Ukraine, using the term treason to describe the invasion.
“Russia’s economy is suffering” as a result of foreign companies leaving, the letter said.
“We believe that President Putin’s decision to begin the [special military operation] is harming Russia’s security and its citizens,” the letter said.
This speech by #Zelensky, as many others, will be taught in leadership classes in 50 years from now.
“Do you still think you can scare us”? I think that after this weekend #Putin knows the answer#Ukraine #Russia https://t.co/fiIrOVLNhG
— Nadav Pollak (@NadavPollak) September 12, 2022
Blogger Yuri Podolyaka warned that if the Russian military continues to paper over its reverses, Russians would “cease to trust the Ministry of Defense and soon the government as a whole.”
Dmitri Kuznets, a former Russian war correspondent and an analyst for the Russian-language news outlet Meduza, according to the Times, said Russians are stunned at the progress of the war.
“Most of these people are in shock and did not think that this could happen,” he told the Times in a phone interview. “Most of them are, I think, genuinely angry.”
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