The withdrawal of the Russian army from Kherson seems to have caused a change in the way Russian elites think about the future of their country. The majority of Russians are preoccupied with the fear of mobilization and did not pay attention to the withdrawal of the army, sources close to the Putin administration allegedly confirmed for the Russian independent portal Meduza.
It’s no surprise that few in Russia’s ruling class were happy with the withdrawal from Kherson a week ago. Nevertheless, sources from the Putin administration and the Russian government who spoke to Meduza pointed out: the withdrawal was a “very painful event” for the Russian elite.
– It began to dawn on people: we lost a real war. People start thinking about how to move forward, what position they would like to take in the future, what bet to make, what hand to play. On the one hand, there will be a need for revenge. On the other hand, there will be demands for normalization and stabilization – a source close to people from Puin’s inner circle described the situation.
The mood in the political bloc of the Putin administration is a little more optimistic. According to one of Medusa’s sources, as they claim in the text, the Kremlin still hopes that the Western “consensus on support for Ukraine” will collapse due to the need for cheap energy.
Another of the Kremlin’s hopes, the same sources said, is that the internal political situation in Ukraine will change drastically and that Volodymyr Zelensky will leave office, although it is unclear why Russian elites see this scenario as likely.
Also, some in the Kremlin reportedly believe that in a few months, the Russian military will become more effective as a result of the mobilization and turn the tide on the battlefield. On the other hand, according to one source, the average Russian paid little, if any, attention to the withdrawal of Kherson, and this was not lost on the Putin administration.
– Society hardly noticed it at all; people are not interested. [Propagandne mreže] they did not succeed [učinkovito] promote the annexation of Kherson. Fortunately, it was overshadowed by the mobilization. At first we thought it was bad, but now it turns out that failure helped us. People were not enthusiastic about Kherson, so it is easier for them to accept official explanations that it was necessary to leave it – reports Meduza.
– What happened in Kherson is considered a shame and the result of chaos in our government. People suspected it to a certain extent, but we didn’t know it was that bad – said a source from one of the regional offices of the Russian ruling party.
Another regional official admitted that people in his social circle “are starting to get the feeling that this is someone else’s war.” He explained that earlier it was “special [vojna] the operation was something in the background that you could even be proud of. Especially if you only paid attention to the official state media. After the mobilization it was a part of life, but no one asked you about it… They fought at the top (and unsuccessfully) and it affected us”.
A similar sentiment seems to have prevailed among members of the Putin administration and the federal government. Medusa’s sources admitted that in the midst of constant military defeats, they were increasingly worried about “the complete non-transparency of the state leadership”.
– We are not knowledgeable in anything; we get a lot of information from the news – both from Ukrainian and Western sources. It seems that we are constantly making concessions, while at the same time trying to cover them up and hide them – a source close to the government told Medusa.
Medusa’s sources claim that despite the general dissatisfaction with the war, Russian officials and businessmen have no intention of taking any measures against Putin himself.
– We just want this to end as soon as possible – said one.