Seven months after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, his army’s no closer to taking Kyiv. In fact, his own troops believe that this is an impossible feat to accomplish, given the sh*tshow nature of the war. After all, his mobilized troops are being told to bring tampons to treat bullet wounds, and there’s neither food nor armor to be found. Likewise, Putin’s partial mobilization (which he has semi-admitted to botching) sent Russians fleeing toward the borders, and no one can really see how Putin can win this conflict. That criticism has now extended to two of Putin’s longtime allies on the global stage, but is he listening?
Putin’s not accustomed to tolerating public dissent (just ask the long-imprisoned Alexei Nalvany and local officials who were punished for criticizing the war). Yet two figureheads (Ramzan Kadyrov, a Chechnya leader, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, who founded the Wagner Group mercenaries) are being very public with their dragging of Putin’s war after Russian troops lost a strategically prominent town, Lyman. Via Reuters, here’s what Razman Kadyrov had to say about the Russian army’s leadership:
“Nepotism in the army will lead to no good,” Kadyrov said, adding that the commander of Russian forces in the area should be stripped of his medals and sent to the front line with a gun to wash away his shame with blood.
Kadyrov, who supports the war and has sent many of his own Chechen units to fight, said his criticism was the bitter truth about a Russian fighting force which he said allowed talentless mediocrities to let down the country.
Then Yevgeny Prigozhin added to the public display by declaring, “Ramzan – you rock man!” He added, “All these bastards should be sent barefoot to the front with automatic guns.” And in response, the Kremlin issued an awkward statement about how “[t]he heads of regions have the right to express their point of view,” but “[e]ven at difficult moments, emotions should still be excluded from any assessments.” Putin has yet to directly comment on these draggings, and there’s no word on whether anyone has seen him grow visibly upset as a result. However, all that Botox makes it very easy to hide emotions, so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath on that front.