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Since the beginning of July and the last conquests of the Russian army, nothing has changed in the official discourse in Russia and yet the news on the ground is accelerating. The Ukrainian army has again announced that it has resumed more than 20 localities in 24 hours as part of its counter-offensive. The Ukrainian press releases follow one another, but do not really resemble what one hears in Russia.
From our correspondent in Moscow,
In a press point entitled as always “Update on the progress of the special military operation”, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense declared on Saturday September 10: ” to achieve the declared goals of the special operation for the liberation of Donbass, it was decided to consolidate the troops located in the Izium area in order to strengthen the efforts in the direction of Donetsk. To avoid damage to Russian troops, a powerful fire defeat was inflicted on the enemy with the help of missiles and artillery. For three days, more than 2 000 Ukrainian and foreign servicemen, as well as more than 100 units of armored vehicles and artillery, were destroyed “.
There was indeed a sort of debate organized on a state channel on Friday September 9 with this remark never heard before: “ The people who convinced Vladimir Putin that the special operation would be quick and efficient, that we would not bomb civilians, that we would arrive and that our national guard, together with Kadyrov’s men, would put everything in order, these people have us all trapped. We are now at a point where, we have to understand that it is absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine with the resources, soldiers and colonial methods we have. “.
On the net, many are not giving much of the future in Russia of the man who made these remarks: Boris Nadjedine, former deputy to the Duma. Still, this intervention has mainly served to give all the arguments to challenge it in all respects. ” No question of negotiating with the Nazi regime of Zelensky “, thus immediately retorted a deputy from United Russia.
Polls and a widening gap
Since the start of the special operation, as the Kremlin says, polls show broad approval for sending Russian troops to Ukraine. Surveys to be compared with two other phenomena. The first: the gap between public discourse and daily life. In Russia, state television talks a lot about the offensive. She does not even speak, since February 24, almost only of that. And at the same time, the audience curves have dropped to the point that last week, for the first time, an entertainment program returned to the screens.
Moreover, in everyday life in Russia, on the surface at least, almost nothing has changed. Few of ” Z” in public space outside official buildings. And the widespread feeling that no one can do anything has no bearing on what happens, so just ignore it. Illustration again this weekend with a video very shared on social networks. We see Muscovites dancing outside. It happened Saturday, September 10 in Moscow, the city commemorated its 875 years of existence. Vladimir Putin was present at several commemorations. In the streets, the air was sweet, the atmosphere of promenade and celebration and fireworks. As if several thousand kilometers away, absolutely nothing was happening.
Very difficult to know, however, if this displayed indifference covers something else. Everyone is subject to the law which prohibits discrediting the armed forces under pain of a very heavy fine and/or from prisonand almost everyone is extremely cautious in his remarks. Except, and this is the second phenomenon, the nationalists. On their highly followed Telegram channels, a completely different story is heard. Sunday, on one of them, one could read a text which began with these words: Dear Ministry of Defence, we know that you are reading us. Here’s what we have to tell you “.
Very few are those who allow themselves to address a direct criticism to Vladimir Putin: it is a major red line to question the Kremlin directly. On the anger of the nationalists, the spokesman of the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, expressed himself thus: Russians support the president [ … ] as long as critical viewpoints stay within the bounds of current law, that’s pluralism. But the line is extremely thin. You have to be very careful “.
More numerous are those who are demanding, loud and clear, a general mobilization. Still, for the majority of short-term Russian observers, what is most likely to happen is a new lockdown of Russian society.