Russia misjudged its strength and is losing the war in Ukraine, an expert told state media last night in a rare and risky outburst.
Viktor Olevich, a well-known “Americanist” within Russia and chief analyst at the Center for Actual Politics, told viewers and a stunned host that Russia “cannot win” despite fighting for eight months.
Olevich, who trained in the US but now lives in Moscow, also questions Russia’s claims that Ukraine is building a “dirty bomb” despite host Andrey Norkin’s protests.
While Olevich has a reputation for not always following the party line, his comments are nonetheless a stunning admission of a publicly disclosed failure.
Viktor Olevich, a well-known “Americanist” in Russia, gave a particularly blunt admission of his failure on state television last night.
He made the comment Monday night when host Norkin asked him about calls between Russia’s top officials and their counterparts in the UK and US about the ‘dirty bomb’.
“The Americans called us,” Norkin noted proudly, before adding, “What does it look like, [and] what can come of it?’
Olevich said, ‘Here’s roughly what it all looks like. Russia launched a special military operation, misjudged its strength and could not win for eight months.
“At the same time, we complain and become upset that our adversaries – the same countries that want to neutralize Russia, cut us to pieces and destroy us – don’t believe us, don’t support us and don’t listen.”
Norkin shot back, “We’re not complaining, we’re outraged, I’d say.”
But Olevich continued, “We can be outraged and angry until we turn blue, but it won’t solve our problems in any way.”
As for the so-called “dirty bomb” – a shipment laced with radioactive material that Russia claims will detonate Ukraine on its own soil – Olevich was dubious.
“If there’s any real information, real evidence, about where this dirty bomb is, where they plan to use it, [then] where are the documents,’ he asked.
Olevich (right) told host Andrey Norkin (left) that Russia had misjudged its strength and cannot win after eight months of fighting
The Russian army is currently being pushed back in both southern and northern Ukraine and has killed tens of thousands
‘Show the documents – these provocations don’t happen without orders. When Russian military intelligence has all this data, it’s time to reveal it.”
Olevich’s doubts echo in Washington and London, both of which have said there is no evidence to support Russia’s claims and the allegation has raised suspicions that Russia is actually on the verge of resorting to nuclear weapons.
Olevich’s comments, while not unique, are just a handful of anti-war protests that Russian TV viewers have seen since Putin invaded in February.
Marina Ovsyannikova, a Channel One reporter, was on the air in March with a sign protesting the war and accusing state television of lying to viewers.
And Mikhail Khodarenok, a retired Russian colonel, has occasionally delivered scathing judgments about the military’s performance.
But, at least until recently, full criticism was rare.
However, since Russia has been pushed back on both the northern and southern fronts, even the usual Kremlin sycophants have become critical.
While careful not to attack Putin directly, several prominent propagandists have rejected the war effort, suggesting those responsible are incompetent.
Putin wanted just a few days of fighting in Ukraine to overthrow the government and re-establish Russia as a major power state.
Putin desperately tries to hold onto territory he took after his attack ground grinds to a halt, but struggles to hold back Ukrainian army
But instead, he has discovered that his army is mired in a war of attrition that has severely torn it apart.
He has so far failed to achieve any of the goals he set for himself – either the capture of Kiev or the “liberation” of the Donbas – instead trying to hold on to the territory he managed to take. .
But even that attempt is failing as Ukraine advances through Kharkov and into the Donbas to the north and east, and Kherson to the south.
Putin’s top commander, Sergei Surovikin, has said the situation in Kherson is “tense” and hinted that a withdrawal may be necessary.
President Zelensky has said publicly that his military plans to advance as far as Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014 – where the war will end.
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