Yesterday there appeared a crucial admission from the Russian press in the form of an inflammatory editorial in Nezavisimaya gazeta, entitled “Putin under Pressure”, which, in stark contrast to the way the Kremlin portrayed the summit in Samarkand as a great success, shows Russia to be in growing isolation, its back against the wall, facing the threat of civil disorder on a major scale.
“The pressure on Vladimir Putin is increasing”, the leader begins. “Seven months of sanctions and foreign political pressure from the West have been augmented by new sources and new players. Thus in Samarkand at the summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation [formed in 1996] the President of Russia was forced to come to terms with extreme unease on the issue of the Special Military Operation (SMO) on the part of the leaders of China and India.” India has been more vocal than China. But, crucially, these criticisms come against a background of increasing domestic discontent at the setbacks faced in north-east Ukraine.
What has actually stirred Nezavisimaya gazeta out of its conformist lethargy is the fact that, faced with the dire prospect of defeat, the ultra-nationalists in Russia want to take the war with Ukraine onto a higher level. “Against the backdrop of ‘the regrouping of Russian troops’ near Kharkov [Kharkiv], (a euphemism born in the press service of the Russian Ministry of Defence), Russian bloggers on Telegram have literally exploded in the radicalism of their demands. They began blaming the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff for every sin and to demand decisive action from the Commander-in-Chief on the fronts of the SMO, urging them not to surrender under any circumstances. Immediately, another segment of the jingoistic patriots began demanding that the President announce general mobilization and place up to a million people under arms.”
Referring to Putin’s close comrade in arms Prizhogin, once reputed to be Putin’s cook and the organizer of Russia’s most notorious mercenaries, the Wagner Group, the paper continues: “There was also a lot of information noise and a video in which an agitator calling to go to the front speaks to prisoners.” To refer to Prigozhin as “an agitator” is technically correct but amounts to throwing down a gauntlet at a leading war-monger in the Kremlin. The paper’s editors clearly believe this to be necessary as the warmongers are, as a substitute for general mobilisation, seeking to raise masses of volunteers across Russia’s regions to further the war.
After seven months of the SMO, Nezavisimaya gazeta continues, Putin faces growing pressure from abroad and at home. And, it warns, raising regional battalions in the face of the weakening of power at the centre threatens “political upheavals and confrontations.” The paper identifies the source of the problem explicitly as “the armed units of the Ministry of Defence, the National Guard, [Chechen warlord] Kadyrov, Prigozhin, 85 subjects of the Federation, the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs”.
Путин под давлением
«Озабоченность» Китая и Индии, а также критика со стороны внутренних радикалов повышают ставки России в спецоперации