After liberating Kherson, a key city in the south, the Ukrainian army liberated dozens of towns from Russian occupation in the surrounding area.
According to the Russian defense ministry, the retreat was effectively finished ahead of schedule, and not a single person or piece of military hardware was left behind. The Ukrainian forces did, however, show images of killed Russian soldiers and destroyed Russian tanks as they advanced (more images available here on the Telegram channel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine). Not all of them, as Moscow says, fled or withdrew.
So how is Russia responding to this huge setback? As one might anticipate, there is no shortage of misinformation, inconsistencies, and blatant lies in the comments we have gathered from various Kremlin media outlets.
What is the official position of Russia?
The Kremlin maintains that everything is OK, nothing negative is occurring, and the “special operation,” which is still not a war, is still proceeding as planned.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, stated on Friday morning that Kherson continues to be a “subject of the Russian Federation” as the most recent official Kremlin statement. “It is set and defined by law,” he continued. No modifications have occurred and will not occur.
Kherson has been practically handed over to the advancing Ukrainians despite Moscow’s declarations that it would always be a part of Russia. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered a pullback across the Dnipro River.
General Sergey Surovikin, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, informed Shoigu in a meeting that was live-streamed on Russian television that it was difficult to maintain the city’s supply lines open.
What do the military commanders say?
The Russian politicians and TV propagandists have attempted to portray the withdrawal as a wise and essential tactical choice that was made to save lives, rather than as being forced back by Ukrainian forces.
General Surovikin made a “difficult but right choice” between “senseless sacrifices for the sake of loud statements and saving the irreplaceable lives of soldiers,” according to Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen Republic.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner private military firm, shared this sentiment when he said: “The decision taken by Surovikin is not simple, but he acted like a guy who is not frightened of responsibility.”
What do the propaganda media say?
The editor of state TV’s multilingual and international channel RT, Margarita Simonyan, also stated on Twitter: “I know for sure that this decision was not easy for anyone. neither to those who got it nor to us, who knew it would happen but prayed nonetheless that it wouldn’t.
Some officials even went further, asserting that the Russian army’s retreat was not only a perfectly rational move but also merely a tiny obstacle on the road to eventual success.
The State Duma Committee on International Affairs’ head, Leonid Slutsky, stated that the evacuation of forces from the right bank was a forced but wise decision that was made to protect the lives of the personnel.
“We are certain to win. Kherson won’t be abandoned by anyone for good. Russia does not abandon anyone.
Vladimir Solovyov, a propagandist for the Kremlin, brought up previous Russian military setbacks when talking about Moscow’s pullout from Kherson.
He declared, “We are at war with NATO.” We “clearly did not anticipate NATO battling us to this extent.” Given how “sad and frightening it is,” he felt that it was crucial “not to surrender to emotions” and to “accept the military’s choice.” “But the battle has its own set of rules. We are confronted by 50 percent of the world’s economy which produces weapons,” he said.
Solovyov claimed that leaving before November 8 would have helped the Democrats in the U.S. and been a “gift to Biden”. This claim is still difficult to understand or comment.
Alexander Kots, a war correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda who is embedded with Russian troops, stated: stated on Telegram. “We grabbed Russian flags from Kherson so that those who will mock our state symbol will not get it.”
How do the military bloggers see the retreat?
To get a more realistic image of the situation we looked into the Telegram channels, where Russian military bloggers have been providing a more honest assessment of the defeat.
Military expert Boris Rozhin, a supporter of Russia, declared: “I will never forget this slaughter of Russian hopes. This betrayal has been permanently imprinted in my heart.”
“I will never forget the thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of Russians who trusted our leadership with their homes, apartments, way of life, future, and children only to be cynically misled and left behind at the last minute.”
According to the purportedly Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel Grey Zone, “for at least the next two days, we will have to read, listen, and see how betrayal and treason around Kherson will be excused and smoothed over, saying that nothing could be done.”
This is obviously at odds with the Kremlin’s stated position.
Despite receiving almost no information other than the Kremlin’s official narrative, at least some Russians are aware that the retreat from Kherson is a significant setback with possibly disastrous effects.
Some Russians have good reason to be dubious of what their government is saying to them, especially because visual evidence that disputes some claims is readily available online, first of all in uncensored Telegram channels.