'It's absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine': Kremlin propagandists can no longer deny that Russia is losing
A panel of Kremlin propagandists on Russian state television sparred in an on-air debate on Sunday evening following a weekend of monumental setbacks for President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" in Ukraine, which is now more than halfway into its seventh sanguinary month.
Significant unsanctioned disagreement such as what was on display is rare, especially when one side's case is critical of the dissent-fearing Putin.
But Putin gravely miscalculated Ukraine's capabilities and the solidarity of the Western democratic alliance supplying Ukraine with material aid. A series of successful counteroffensive campaigns that were executed by the Ukrainian resistance in the Russian-occupied East – led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and backed by the United States, its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, and the European Union – have quickly usurped Moscow's manufactured narrative that Russia is winning.
The following is a transcript of translated footage provided by Russian Media Monitor founder and Daily Beast Russia columnist Julia Davis, who tweeted, "Life comes at you fast: pundits on Russian TV realize that their military is failing and their country is in trouble. They are starting to play the blame game. Some of them finally understand that their genocidal denial of the Ukrainian identity isn't working in Russia's favor."
Former State Duma Deputy Boris Nadezhdin:
People who convinced President Putin that the special operation will be fast and effective; we won't strike the civilian population; we'll come in, and our National Guard, along with Kadyrovites [Chechen separatist militia], will bring things to order.
These people really set all of us up.
Host Andrey Norkin:
Are you sure these people exist?
Of course. The president didn't just sit there and think, 'why don't I just start a special operation.' Someone told him that Ukrainians will surrender, that they will flee, that they'll want to join Russia.
Someone had to be telling him all this.
They said the same on TV.
We're now at the point where we have to understand it's absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using those resources and colonial war methods with which Russia is trying to wage war using contract soldiers, mercenaries, no mobilization. A strong army is opposing the Russian Army fully supported by the strongest countries in the economic and technological sense, including European countries...
Are you suggesting mobilization?
I'm suggesting peace talks about stopping the war and moving on to dealing with political issues.
Should we start negotiations?
State Duma Deputy Sergey Mironov:
There can't be any negotiations with Zelenskyy's Nazi regime. Zelenskyy's Nazi regime has to be destroyed.
Nadezhdin thinks we have no strength for that.
Either mobilization and full-scale war or we get out.
Recently, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] said: 'We haven't even started yet.' We'll start when we need to. We don't need mobilization.
Pardon me, but what are we waiting for?
Policy expert Viktor Olevich:
You say everything is going according to the plan.
Does anyone really believe that six months ago we planned to be leaving Balakhya [Ukraine], repelling a counteroffensive near Kharkiv [Ukraine], [but] could not take Kharkiv or leave Balakhya?
Don't forget, we're fighting against a NATO Bloc with the hands of well-prepared Ukrainians.
This is a serious army and their weapons are serious.
Our military intelligence should have predicted this.
War is war. You can't predict everything.
But we have the will to continue until our victory.
State Duma Member Alexander Kazakov:
War is a very complex notion. It has political and psychological components. During the last several days, we've been dealt a severe psychological blow. Regarding our non-comrade Nadezhdin, I again urge you to watch your language. To talk about 'colonial wars' even in passing is unacceptable in this instance. As a politician of such an extended tenure, can't you take a look at the entire war theater which includes Western Europe and the US? Do you really think that we trampled across the border and are trying to bite off a piece of their territory? A global war is underway and this is just a fragment of it.
I hope that a global war does not start.
But if it does the balance of power will not be in our favor.
Host Ivan Trushkin:
There are two theories as to how to deal with all this; that we should be tougher in liberated territories, SMERSH [Soviet-era counterintelligence cooperative], the detection of saboteurs, et cetera.
Others say that's not enough and we should do something to the territory of Ukraine, that we should sober up those people who are sending their terrorists. Which method would you choose?
Political commentator Alexei Timofeev:
Neither the first nor the second method would work to guarantee security in my opinion. These actions, these crimes will go on regardless of how harshly SMERSH would function.
Are you trying to say we're stuck with this forever?
For a long time, for a very very long time. There's an expert who said that the Russian Army entering Odesa [Ukraine] would be at risk solely from being hugged too tight by the locals – the people of Odesa – overcome with love for Russians. As of February 24th, all of us clearly understand that's not at all what happened. Residents of Odesa don't want to hug Russian troops. The same expert is constantly saying on federal TV that we should keep going all the way. If his expertise, his analysis – was not simply erroneous but criminally and catastrophically wrong – why should I listen to the opinion of the same expert who is still saying we should go all the way?
We need for the locals to support us ideologically and not only in liberated territories. We should be talking to Ukrainians.
We can't expect their affection if we say that the Ukrainian ethnicity doesn't exist, that Ukrainians as a people don't exist, that the Ukrainian language doesn't exist...
They're shooting at us, and we should talk to them?
We need to reasonably approach the people and tell them how their future would look with Russia, whom they will be in Russia, how they will identify themselves in Russia. If they see themselves as Ukrainians, if [Russian journalist Egor] Kholmogorov or anyone else tells them that they don't exist, telling a person that he doesn't exist, denying their identity will only cause them to reject us.
I think we should have done this sooner or deal with it later after the military phase is over. How soon will it be over is in question.
We need to win the war in Ukraine. We have to liquidate the Nazi regime. After that, whoever wants to talk can come to us.
How long will this keep going?
However long it takes.
Thank you for your honest answer.
So my ten-year-old kids...
... will eventually get the chance to fight, right?
Watch the segment below or at this link.
\u201cLife comes at you fast: pundits on Russian TV realize that their military is failing and their country is in trouble. They are starting to play the blame game. Some of them finally understand that their genocidal denial of the Ukrainian identity isn't working in Russia's favor.\u201d— Julia Davis (@Julia Davis) 1662930537
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