Ukraine’s military gains threaten Putin’s propaganda grip: ‘The bubble is bursting’

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Ukraine’s ongoing counter-offensive has created major territorial gains and forced Russian troops to retreat – leading to some discontent within Russia itself that threatens the propaganda bubble created by Vladimir Putin.

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Despite crackdown on dissent against the war, criticism of Putin’s “special military operation” has surfaced on Russian state television and in the public, which experts say has put the Russian leader in a difficult position as he prepares for his next move. tries to locate.

“The bubble is bursting,” said Balkan Devlen, a senior fellow at the McDonald-Laurier Institute and an assistant research professor of international affairs at Carleton University.


“The idea is that in the long run, Russia is on track to win it easily and that Ukraine may resist but ultimately not be able to take over the territory… that’s falling apart now. And so far, the Kremlin The Russian people have failed to find a coherent narrative to explain this.”

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In the past week, Ukrainian forces have retaken 9,000 square kilometers of territory occupied by Russia. According to the Institute for the Study of War, which is closely tracking the conflict that began in February. The think tank said this is more than the area claimed by Russia since April.

The retaliation has produced most fruit in the northeastern Kharkiv region – which has been almost completely liberated by Ukraine – but is also driving the Russians back to the southern province of Kherson, where Kyiv controls ports along the Black Sea. expects. There have been reports of Russian soldiers surrendering and even fleeing their positions.

It is not yet clear whether Ukraine’s attack could signal a turning point in the nearly seven-month war. Western Allies have been wary of prematurely declaring victory, even American officials declared the Russians “in trouble”.

But seeds of doubt are taking root in Russia and even its staunch allies. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed leader of the Russian region of Chechnya, publicly criticized He called the Russian Defense Ministry “mistakes” that allowed Russian losses.

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on state-controlled Russian television, Pundits took a rare step Acknowledging the war is going badly – while stopped blaming Putin himself.

“The people who assured President Putin that the operation would be fast and effective … these people really set us all up,” former Member of Parliament Boris Nadezhdin said on a talk show on NTV television. “Now we are at the point where we have to understand that it is absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using these resources and methods of colonial warfare.”

“The fact that the state media is now allowing this kind of criticism is really remarkable,” said Marcus Kolga, founder of the independent research group DisInfowatch, which has spent more than a decade tracking Russian state media. .

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Despite allowing such opinions to be circulated, Putin’s dismissal of dissent against the invasion – resulting in the shutting down of free media – may have served as a “pressure valve” to quell public frustrations. “So that they do not spread on the streets,” said Kolga.

He said it is also possible that the Kremlin is laying the groundwork to hold the military accountable for Putin’s own mistakes.

During this, more than 60 reps Municipalities across Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, have signed a petition calling for Putin’s resignation. The police have accused many of them of defaming the war, which is likely to lead to jail time.

Yet Putin is keeping his grip on domestic politics overall, with his own party and other pro-Kremlin lawmakers wide local elections in the weekends.

Experts are also unsure whether criticisms of the situation in Ukraine will have a greater impact on the general public.

“Most of the Russian population is content not to focus on politics, and is not concerned with politics – which is by design, and is why the Putin regime has been in power for so long,” said Lisa Sundström, a politician Said a science professor at the University of British Columbia who studies Russia.

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“So there is majority support for the war – at least for “Special Military Operations” – but it is not enthusiastic support. People are just going about their lives… and if it doesn’t directly affect them, then They don’t have to worry.”

That apathy is a double-edged sword, however, when Putin faced pressure from nationalist forces within and outside his government to consider a massive mobilization that would require the patriotic fervor that currently exists. Not there.

“Putin may be an autocrat, but he is not an absolute dictator, and he still doesn’t have the political power to consider (mobilize) him,” said Andrew Raciulis, a fellow at the Granthshala Affairs Institute of Canada, who headed the department. Spent decades in of national defence.

If, however, Ukraine were to go further in its military offensive and threaten to retake the Crimean peninsula, Putin might be able to frame it as an existential threat to Russia and let the public know about his Can rally for the cause, Rasiulis said.

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“I think (Ukrainian President …


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