Date: 27 May 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

A Long War of Attrition in Ukraine, Russia’s Regime Figures Out Public Opinion

Despite mounting pressure from military veterans and experts, the Kremlin is pursuing its strategy in the war against Ukraine. Moscow can afford months of conflict. But the regime––just in case––allows for some critical comments to know what those most interested in waging the war think about it.


Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s Security Council, said in a newspaper interview published on May 24 that Russian forces are not “chasing deadlines” in Ukraine, suggesting a possibly open-ended timeline for the Russian invasion. Patrushev, a hawkish member of Putin’s inner circle, says the Kremlin must achieve its top goal no matter how long this takes. Russia claims to be waging a campaign of “denazification” in Ukraine, a vaguely defined goal. “Nazism must either be 100 percent eradicated, or it will raise its head in a few years, and in an even uglier form,” he said in a response to a question about the war dragging on. His words were echoed by Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s foreign spy agency. Senior Russian officials are keener to admit that the Russian offensive in Ukraine is sluggish and look for possible explanations. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting of security officials that Russia is deliberately slowing down its offensive by arranging cease-fires and humanitarian corridors “in order to avoid casualties among the civilians.” According to what officials from Putin’s innermost circle say, the Kremlin is wondering what to do next in Ukraine. On the one hand, Moscow says it is patient, but, on the other, pressure is on the rise to speed up the campaign in Ukraine. Those who rose to prominence are people like Vladimir Kvachkov—he is a former colonel of Special Forces. He is respected in the Army because of his war record in Afghanistan. In 2005, he was actually charged with trying to kill Anatoly Chubais, a big name in the Russian reformist government back in the nineteen-nineties. Lots of Russians blame Chubais for the way reforms went in the nineties. Allegedly, Kvachkov tried to kill him. He got caught and sent to prison, and then got acquitted and released. On May 19, a statement signed by Kvachkov, which lots of people inside of the Army support, says that Russia needs to admit that it lost the first stage of this war. They believe that this pretense of running special operations should be abandoned and an all-out war should be declared. Such a stance is echoed by the All-Russian Union of Officers whose members are retired and reserve Russian officers. However, the Kremlin is in no hurry to take such radical steps. All signs are now that Moscow will stick to its current strategy in Ukraine, especially amid some tactical successes it has achieved. Russian forces claimed the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol and will probably soon seize the whole eastern region of Luhansk.

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