Moment Putin’s mouthpiece hits out at colleagues in huge defiance

Putin mouthpiece hits out colleague says 'Why are we doing this?'

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Russia is likely to continue its retreat from swathes of Ukraine until Kyiv’s forces recapture an area nearly half the size of Wales, Western officials believe. They suspect Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops will not try to seize back the lost land around the Kharkiv area and will instead consolidate their firepower in the south. Russian pundits have begun questioning the Ukraine invasion.

On Rossiya 1, filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov said: “We need some clarity in the political solution of the Ukrainian question.

“We need to admit that the Ukrainian people do exist.”

Political scientist Sergey Mikheyev interjected: “I disagree that we should offer Ukraine some type of an alternative, alternatives have been offered since 1991.

“All post-Soviet existence was such an alternative. We gave you a country you did not have before.

“You didn’t exist as a people, we gave you the feeling that you are a people.”

Political scentist Dmitry Drobnitsky added: “Recognising the existence of the Ukrainian people was the biggest mistake in our Soviet history.

“Marxists did all that. The Ukrainian people do not exist. Any historian will confirm they do not exist.

“You want me to acknowledge their existence? Thanks but no thanks, I won’t.”

Host Vladimir Solovyov hit back: “When we, from the outside, tell Ukrainians ‘you don’t exist’. I don’t think that is correct.”

But pundit Alexander Sosnovsky questioned the language used by his fellow panellists, suggesting their tone would alienate members of the public.

Russian officials ‘expressing disgust with retreat’ says expert

Sosnovsky said: “This is clear-cut nationalism. We can’t do this, turning all of that nation’s population against us. Why are we doing this? It’s total nonsense.”

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim that his forces have regained 6,000 square km (more than 2,300 square miles) this month was supported by Western intelligence.

“However, Russian forces are likely in the process of withdrawing from the whole of occupied northern Kharkiv Oblast, an area of up to 10,000 square km or approaching half the size of Wales,” one official added.

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Instead, intelligence suggests the Russians will try to consolidate east of the Oskil river to focus on defending the Donbas region, which is high among Mr Putin’s publicly stated objectives.

“I don’t expect them to try and regain (the lost land), they are trying to consolidate their lines. They will be loathe to lose territory which they have stated as their primary objectives, namely the Donbas and the land bridge,” the official said.

They added: “It’s too early to say whether this is a turning point in the war, but it’s a moment that has power in terms of both operations, logistics and psychology.

“In marked contrast to Russia, Ukraine has demonstrated impressive operational art and adherence to the core principles of war.”

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