A senior Russian-appointed official in Ukraine on Thursday blamed the country’s military setbacks on incompetence and corruption at the highest levels of the Kremlin’s defense apparatus.
In a chilling 4-minute video posted on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, Kirill Stremousov, the Moscow-installed deputy leader of Ukraine’s Kherson region, largely occupied by Russia, blamed military losses in his jurisdiction on “incompetent commanders” who have not been arrested. responsible for their mistakes.
Stremousov’s comments come as Kyiv continues its successful campaign to retake parts of southern and eastern Ukraine that Russia captured in the early weeks of the war.
Pro-Russian propagandists and military analysts have blamed the losses on what they see as Russian military mistakes, but few Russian officials installed on Ukrainian soil have so publicly hindered Moscow’s war effort.
Stremousov alleged that a “small number” of what he called “corrupt marauders and other frauds” were responsible for the “gaps” on the battlefield. He singled out Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, saying he “allowed this situation to happen.”
Members of the Russian parliament and regional officials have begun to make similar criticisms of the Russian military, which has been widely criticized as not having enough troops to hold the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine that Russian forces seized in the early weeks of the conflict.
Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, head of Russia’s State Duma’s Defense Committee, said on Thursday officials should “stop lying” about developments on the ground.
“People know. Our people are not stupid,” said Kartapolov in an interview with a Russian journalist.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov criticized Russia’s withdrawal from the strategic city of Lyman in eastern Donetsk region on Saturday. Kadyrov, a key ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Russian troops were “not provided with the necessary communication, interaction and supply of ammunition”.
Kherson and Donetsk are two of the four regions that Russia plans to annex in violation of international law. Donetsk and Luhansk are both in eastern Ukraine, and the Moscow-backed republic has been battling the fugitives in each region since 2014. Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are in southern Ukraine and were occupied by Russian forces shortly after the invasion began at the end of February.
Ukraine’s military has made major advances in Kherson over the past week, liberating more than 400 square kilometers (155 square miles) in an unspecified period of time, a Ukrainian military spokesman said. Stremousov denied it. He said Russian troops were “sustaining the offensive” and Ukraine’s advances had “halted”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the communities of Novovoskrensenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka had been liberated, suggesting Ukrainian forces were making inroads into the region’s main countryside. Russian units, Ukraine’s military said, were suffering heavy losses in Kherson and were trying to evacuate wounded soldiers to safety across the Dnipro River on Wednesday as Kiev advances on its western bank.