- The Kremlin has given permission for some state media to start acknowledging Russia’s recent defeats in Ukraine, Bloomberg reported.
- Russia’s tightly-controlled state media has recently been unusually critical of Vladimir Putin’s war.
Russia’s tightly-controlled state media has recently been unusually critical of Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine and Moscow’s military setbacks on the battlefield.
However, the increased scrutiny may have the blessing of Putin himself: The Kremlin has given permission for some state TV hosts to start acknowledging Russia’s recent defeats by Ukrainian forces amid the more than seven-month-long war, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
The policy shift involving Russian state media — which typically pushes Putin’s propaganda — was confirmed to Bloomberg by anonymous sources who the news outlet described as “people familiar with the Kremlin’s tight message management.”
Andrey Kartapolov, the head of Russia’s State Duma Defense Committee, said this week during an online popular talk show, “We have to stop lying,” Bloomberg reported.
“Our people aren’t stupid,” the former general said.
News director and anchor Ekaterina Kotrikadze of Russian independent channel TV Rain noted to CNN in an interview published Thursday that pro-Kremlin pundits have begun to ask questions on air about the state of the war.
“This is something really new,” Kotrikadze said, noting that the change only started a couple weeks or a month ago.
Last month, Ukrainian forces launched a lightning-fast counteroffensive in the war, resulting in them reclaiming vast swathes of territory from Russian occupation in the eastern Kharkiv and Donetsk provinces.
The pro-Moscow pundits, said Kotrikadze, “are scared to death because if Russia fails in this war then something changes in Russian Federation systematically.”
Kotrikadze added, “They understand that something is really wrong with their own prospects and they are furious right now.”
Russian state TV may have been given the go-ahead to discuss Moscow’s military defeats in Ukraine, but they haven’t gone so far as to put the blame on Putin.
Questioning Putin or his decision to invade Ukraine remains off the table, Bloomberg reported.
“They don’t mention [Putin] personally,” Kotrikadze said of state TV hosts. “But they’re asking questions about the heads of army and others responsible. They’re trying to find who to blame.”
The Kremlin has been trying to clear Putin of any responsibility for Russia’s battlefield defeats and instead place the blame on “underinformed military advisors within Putin’s circle,” according to an assessment published last month by the Institute for the Study of War.