Destroyed military equipment of the Russian army in the city of Bucha.
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In a country where independent media and commentary have disappeared from public view, it is rare to hear dissenting voices on Russia’s many state-controlled television networks – particularly now with the country at war with Ukraine.
But a well-known military analyst and veteran came to prominence this week after he appeared on state television and gave a damning assessment of the invasion of Ukraine, or what Russia calls its “special military operation.”
“The situation, frankly, will only get worse for us,” said Mikhail Khodarionok, a retired colonel of the Russian army, on the “60 Minutes” talk show on Rossiya-1 TV hosted by Olga Scapieva, famous for her pro-Kremlin stance. .
“You should not swallow media sedatives,” Khodarionok told the host, warning that Ukraine was in no way on the verge of being defeated by Russia, and that Kyiv could muster and arm a million men if it wanted to.
Khodaryonok, who is also a defense columnist for gazeta.ru and a graduate of one of the Russian military academies, according to Reuters, warned Russia against invading its neighbor Ukraine, saying that it does not serve Russia’s national interests.
His advice was not heeded, Russia has now been locked in a bloody conflict in Ukraine for nearly three months with few significant territorial gains in the east and south, and the invasion is likely to turn into a protracted war of attrition as Ukraine’s guerrillas show their bravery. Moscow’s disdain for steadfastness.
Moscow has already had to scale back its apparent strategy of invading Ukraine from the north, east and south, and is now concentrating its combat forces on eastern Ukraine, in the Donbass region.
Khudaryonok stressed that even if Ukraine had to rely on hundreds of thousands of conscripts who received only rudimentary military training, what is important is that their hearts will be in combat, and this will not bode well for Russia.
“The desire to defend the motherland means that it is in Ukraine – it is already there and they intend to fight to the end,” said Khudaryonok, before being interrupted by Skabieva, who was trying to reduce the effectiveness of the Ukrainian forces.
Reuters reported that Khudarionok and Scapieva could not be reached for comment.
On the world stage, Russia is now widely pariah and sanctioned to the limit, with former allies in China and India united over how long the conflict can last.
“The main shortcoming of our military-political position is that we are in complete geopolitical isolation – and yet we do not want to admit it – the whole world is practically against us … and we have to get out of this situation,” Khudarionok continued on the talk show, where other studio guests appeared stunned from candid criticism.
As Russia grows more isolated, the West appears more united than ever. Ukraine’s allies in the West continue to supply Kyiv with weapons, and the Russian invasion has resulted in the Western military alliance of NATO (NATO) tightening its security measures. In fact, the Russian invasion only cemented the alliance with Finland and Sweden who were now looking to join the organization.
Russia based its attack on Ukraine largely on opposition to its accession to NATO (a possibility that was not imminent) and has always blamed NATO for the invasion, as well as accusing the military alliance of preparing to invade what Moscow considers Russian territory in the east. Ukraine, where two pro-Russian republics are located in the Donbass region.
But its response to the upcoming expansion of NATO to Finland and Sweden has been muted. Although she initially threatened “retaliatory steps” against the enlargement, with President Vladimir Putin calling it a “problem,” she has since said the enlargement doesn’t make much difference to it. Geopolitical analysts note that Russia can do little about the expansion anyway, although Russia has threatened to act if NATO’s military infrastructure is placed in Sweden or Finland.
Khudaryonok said that Russia needs to see the reality of the situation in Ukraine: “The main thing in our work is to have a sense of military and political realism: if you go beyond that, the fact of history will hit you so hard that you won’t. I know what hit you.”
“Don’t wave the rockets at Finland for good – it looks kind of funny,” he said.
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