‘Forced’ Russian propagandists mocked over live TV ‘rant’ denying military failures

Putin addresses western sanctions in speech to parliament

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The Kremlin has made efforts to cover up truths about its military since – and, indeed, before – the invasion of Ukraine was launched. Russian state-owned TV has played a significant role in this, broadcasting exaggeratory reports to millions on a daily basis.

In one notable recent example, pundit Olga Skabeyeva insisted the Ukrainian military is “falling apart” under pressure from Russian troops.

She delivered what has been described as a “forced” monologue on Channel One Russia while images of battered buildings, broken equipment and even dead soldiers showed on the screens behind her.

Skabeyeva, quoted by Francis Scarr of the BBC, said: “In front of our eyes a breakthrough is underway in the special operation.

“The Ukrainians are crumbling in front of our eyes. The Ukrainian army is falling apart.

“Everything that our Western partners are now telling us – the stories about how they’re winning the war – it’s just an entirely pathetic attempt to support the Ukrainian army.”

Mr Scarr said of Skabeyeva in a post on Twitter: “This rant… about how well the war is going for Russia sounds a bit forced.”

Sharing a previous appearance on the state-run TV channel, the monitor highlighted even those previously considered as “token liberals” were now spreading passioned “vitriol” on the screen.

Pundit Mikhail Konev earlier this week insisted the Kyiv regime must be “wiped off the face of the earth”.

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Anton Barbashin, Editorial Director of Riddle Russia, revealed in a post on Twitter: “I’ve even met the guy. Back then he was all about protesting Putin’s regime…

“Then he got bought and sold.”

Those who are deemed to spread “false” news on the Russian military can now face up to 15 years in jail.

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Douma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin stressed shortly after the war began there would be “very tough punishment” for those who make “statements which discredit our armed forces”.

But it is not possible for Russians – or anyone, for that matter, outside of the Kremlin, at least – to understand the true state of the Russian military.

Moscow has not released a Russian soldier death toll in over a month.

Its latest was understood to be far below the true level.

The Kremlin also altered how the relatives of fallen soldiers receive financial compensation in what was understood to have been an attempt to further muddy the waters of military information.

From the information that can be gathered, military experts and pundits believe, however, Russian forces are performing less well than Putin had hoped – and, perhaps, expected.

Author Anders Åslund suggested in a post on Twitter Russian soldiers are “tired” and are in need of “regrouping and repairs”.

But, he added, Putin is “driven by the calendar” and hopes for a victory by May 9, when Russia celebrated “Victory Day” over Nazi Germany.

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