A guest on Russian state TV had said the country was unprepared for the war that started when President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
The rare acknowledgement came from the head of the Expert Council of Russia’s Strategic Development Fund, Igor Shatrov, following Russia’s retreat from the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine.
“We aren’t seeing results,” Shatrov said during an appearance on Mesto Vstrechi (Meeting Point), as he discussed the ongoing war with fellow guests.
An excerpt of the show was published on Twitter by Julia Davis, a columnist at The Daily Beast and creator of the Russian Media Monitor, which added English subtitles to the clip.
Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson last week marked the third major retreat by Putin’s troops since the start of the war on February 24.
Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency said on November 11 that the city was being restored to Ukrainian control and called for any remaining Russian soldiers to surrender to its troops entering the city.
“We weren’t ready for the war that we started,” said Shatrov.
He also said Putin’s refusal to call the conflict a war is hindering Russian progress in Ukraine.
“We keep calling it a ‘special military operation’—we’re too shy to call it a war, which is a huge problem. Because with war, other laws are in play,” said Shatrov.
It’s not the first time guests on Russian state TV have pointed to the country’s military setbacks in the conflict.
Russian TV host and Putin ally Vladimir Solovyov, nicknamed “Putin’s voice” for his stridently pro-Kremlin views, said on November 1 that officials thought the war “would be a lot easier.”
“True, not everything is going smoothly, yes, we thought everything would be a lot easier,” he said on his Total Contact show, while giving his thoughts on the war.
“Yes, we anticipated and they started negotiations which have been derailed because nobody needs the Ukrainian people,” Solovyov continued.
The TV host suggested that the Ukrainian people “have to burn in the fire of this civil war, as the president [Putin] defined it.”
“Because we are one people. This is a war of civilizations. This is a war between life and death. This is a war between good and evil,” he added, repeating the Kremlin line that Russia and Ukraine are one nation.
Solovyov was the first propagandist to describe Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine as a “war.” Before that, state propaganda had repeated the Kremlin’s narrative that the conflict is a “special military operation” and not an “all-out war.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the G-20 summit in Bali via video link on Tuesday that he believes Putin’s war can “now be stopped.”
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