Former Russia intelligence agent says defeat looms in Ukraine
There are reports of mounting internal criticism of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported that Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin, former commander of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, has been promoted to lead Russia’s ground forces.
The think-tank reported that Lapin has been blamed for Russian losses since the February invasion and for Ukraine’s counteroffensives.
ISW says the move suggests more evidence that Putin is being forced to appoint “previously disgraced and unpopular general officers to fill other, non-frontline command roles …[suggesting] there is a systemic lack of general officers more suited to these positions”.
Military blogger Igor Girkin, a former Donbas and intelligence agent, according to the ISW, “heavily implied that he would support the removal of Russian President Vladimir Putin from office [in] his most direct criticism of Putin to date”.
Girkin posted that he would continue to criticise Putin and report on the real military situation in Ukraine where Russia is on the verge of defeat.
“Russia is on the verge of military defeat and no capture of small towns and villages changes the situation. Not only incompetent generals and mercenary officials should be responsible for this, but also the commander-in-chief who appointed them and stubbornly refuses to change them,” the 52-year-old said.
Girkin blogged on Telegram that while he is “against the change of commander-in-chief during the war … the absence of criticism cannot prevent or even delay catastrophe.
“If my criticism becomes suicidal for me, but is noticed and causes at least some correct reaction, I will consider my duty fulfilled.”
The ISW reports: “Russian milbloggers have historically criticised Russian military leaders and MoD officials while upholding Putin as an effective wartime leader.
“Girkin extended his criticisms to non-military Putin appointees and advisors whose decisions negatively impacted Russia’s war performance and effort, noting that the common factor between these leaders is Putin’s decision to appoint them.
“Girkin’s criticisms… indicate that growing frustration with the state of the war may be reaching a boiling point after nearly a year of hostilities among some milbloggers, prompting some milbloggers to reduce their self-censorship.”
It is hard to effectively monitor Russian popular opinion. Picture credit: Kremlin