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Since the onset of the full-scale invasion, the Kremlin has exerted special efforts to create a rift between the Ukrainian military, society, and its democratically elected government. On February 25, Putin himself urged the “servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” to “take power in their own hands” and “take down the gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”
Despite the solid unity displayed between society and the military over 20 months of war, Russia persistently attempts to sow or amplify any discord between the military and civilians.
A prime focus of these subversive efforts, starting from mid-2022, has been the alleged disagreements between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief.
It’s worth noting that the Russian narrative of internal strife within the Ukrainian government is not a novel concept. During the Revolution of Dignity, Russian media depicted internal conflicts everywhere: the fierce rivalry within the Yatsenyuk-Klychko-Tyahnybok trio, the exaggerated clash between Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc and Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front, and purported tensions between regular Armed Forces and volunteer battalions. They even forecasted rebellions by oligarchs Akhmetov and Kolomoisky against President Poroshenko.
Post-2019, Russian narratives capitalized on the Poroshenko-Zelenskyy confrontation, raising alarms about a “fascist Maidan.” In 2021, they positioned Speaker Dmytro Razumkov as an “alternative” to President Zelenskyy.
And repeatedly from 2014-2021, they prophesied various “Maidans” – be it veteran-led, tariff-related, or due to COVID-19.
Admittedly, Ukrainian politics and media leaks provided ample fodder for such disinformation campaigns. However, these ominous Russian forecasts never materialized.
Yet, in 2023, the theme of an anti-government uprising and widespread unrest in Ukraine gained renewed emphasis in Russian propaganda, particularly in August and September.
Analysis of the Russian media landscape suggests the following.
Firstly, this narrative may be part of a broader information campaign designed to reshape Russian public opinion, especially after the destabilizing effect of Prigozhin’s rebellion. In contrast to Ukraine, Russia was genuinely shaken by the military coup led by Wagner mercenaries under Yevgeny Prigozhin. This event exposed the fragility and uncertainty of Russian unity, a not-so-surprising outcome considering the erosion of civil society in Russia.
To counter this, the Kremlin has been working to obscure the Pogozhin rebellion and to draw a stark contrast between the perceived “stability” in Russia and the allegedly imminent “Maidan” in Ukraine. They have strategically framed this “Maidan” as stemming from a rift between Ukrainian military and civilian leaders, thus diverting attention from the significant clash between Prigozhin’s militants and the Kremlin.
It’s no wonder then that from late July to early August 2023, Russian media ramped up the fabrication and dissemination of stories about a severe personal “confrontation” between President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian military. Echoing the tactics used between 2019-2021, the U.S. was cast as the orchestrator behind this alleged military coup. Given America’s role as Ukraine’s main military aid provider and its perception as the “root of the evil in the world,” its involvement, as per Russian propagandists, lends credence to their claims.
Secondly, by hyping up this supposed internal conflict, Russian propaganda sought to undermine the early victories of the Ukrainian army in the Zaporizhzhia Region. Mimicking Prigozhin’s propaganda model, Kremlin strategists circulated tales of deep-seated “conflict” between Ukraine’s military and political leaders, aiming to convince the Russian public of the Ukrainian army’s inability to sustain its counteroffensive. To add a veneer of legitimacy, Russian propagandists eagerly exploited rumors and unverified reports from Ukrainian and Western media. It is also telling that in October, the production of “news” about the “conflict” between Zelenskyy and Zaluzhnyi and the “military coup” sharply decreased, with such references appearing in the media only as links to publications in the Western press.
Thirdly, it’s plausible that Kremlin-controlled media were simply executing a political directive, churning out disinformation to align with Dmitry Medvedev’s statements about Ukraine’s supposed “reintegration” with Russia, as expressed in his August 22 article.
So, let us trace the evolving tactics and spread of disinformation by Kremlin propagandists. Notably, the intensification of the Ukraine rebellion narrative coincided with the assassination of Yevgeni Prigozhin and the breaching of the first Russian defense line in the South. It’s also telling that the Russians have started actively utilizing anonymous “Ukrainian” Telegram channels, which were established at the war’s outset.
Messages Prior to Prigozhin’s Death:
Before the death of Prygozhyn, the theme of a military-political standoff in Ukraine was barely noticeable, with only two main narratives being pushed:
Ukraine was “preparing for elections” which the U.S. wanted to use to remove Zelenskyy from power and bring to the fore a leader ready to sign a peace agreement.
Zaluzhnyi refused to join Zelenskyy’s team for the “elections” and was prepared to switch allegiance to Zelenskyy’s opponents.
August 3, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“The Americans have concocted a new political intrigue in Ukraine. Through media outlets under their control, Biden’s administration has bluntly reminded Zelenskyy of his actual place in the political hierarchy. They have already identified a replacement for the comic-turned-president within his close circle.
The trigger for these publications in American media is likely twofold. First, Zelenskyy’s excessive independence, forgetting his role as a vassal of the U.S. Washington evidently wants to quickly ‘discard’ Kyiv and orchestrate something akin to a ceasefire. Zelenskyy, as noted by Ukrainian Telegram channels, intends to continue military operations to the end.
The second reason is Zelenskyy’s attempt to cancel the elections. The U.S. secretly hopes to rid themselves of the comic on the Kyiv throne through a simple and effective means – voting.”
August 23, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“In Ukraine, despite the Special Military Operation, the political season is starting. The main forces are preparing for parliamentary elections, which could take voters by surprise. Most candidates’ positions are clear and simple, except for the Chief of the Armed Forces, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, who remains silent about his political preferences.
According to the Telegram channel Rezident, parliamentary elections in Ukraine this year are still possible, but only after Zelenskyy’s planned visit to Washington at the end of September...
The main intrigue revolves around the Commander-in-Chief, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi. Insiders reported that this character, quite popular among voters, refused to join Zelenskyy’s bloc. Perhaps, these days in Kyiv, a betrayal is being prepared, with Zaluzhnyi defecting to the camp of the Ukrainian president’s enemies.”
Additionally, it’s important to mention the significant article by Russia’s ex-President and Deputy Secretary of the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, published in Argumenty I Fakty on August 22, just before Ukraine’s Independence Day. In it, war criminal Medvedev shared his fantasies about Ukrainians overthrowing the “junta” themselves and “electing normal leaders” who would unite the country with Russia.
August 23, 2023
Moscow, August 23. TASS: “Sooner or later, Ukrainians will tire of living under the oppression of the current Kyiv regime and ‘choose adequate leaders’ who will treat Russia as a friendly neighbor or even a common homeland. Such was the opinion expressed by Dmitry Medvedev in his article on aif.ru.
’How it all ends and where the pendulum swings is clear. Sooner or later, Ukrainians, already weary of sacrificing themselves and their children as ‘cannon fodder,’ will simply overthrow the current junta <...>. And they will elect normal, reasonable leaders. For whom Russia is a friendly neighbor or, more precisely, a common homeland, not prone to hysterical dependence on the West,’ he outlined the potential prospects.
This has happened in many countries across different historical epochs, and it will happen here too, Medvedev is convinced. ‘Of course, it would be better if this happened sooner rather than later,’ he added.”
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what led to the flurry of fake news between August 23 and October 6 about a military coup in Ukraine — whether it was Medvedev’s article, Ukrainian successes in the area of Robotyne, or Prigozhin’s death. However, it is evident that Russian propagandists were pursuing domestic political goals and targeting their home audience.
Messages After August 23:
Towards the end of August and throughout September, Russian media propagated contradictory reports about a severe conflict between the Ukrainian President and the Commander-in-Chief:
Zaluzhnyi was conserving military reserves and not obeying Zelenskyy’s orders for a decisive offensive in the Zaporizhzhia sector (August 27);
Zaluzhnyi and Syrskyi were deploying all reserves to the Zaporizhzhia sector (August 28);
Zaluzhnyi believed Zelenskyy’s objective to capture Tokmak was unrealistic and refused to follow orders (August 31);
Head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence Budanov disagreed with Zelenskyy about the war against Russia, and the military were generally tired and desired peace (September 1);
The U.S. was preparing to eliminate Zelenskyy to conceal traces of the “terrorist act” on the Nord Stream pipelines (September 3);
Zelenskyy was being prepared for removal through a military coup (September 11);
Zaluzhnyi was sabotaging presidential orders to capture Tokmak, while the U.S. was planning to replace Zelenskyy with a leader who would sign peace according to the “Korean scenario” (September 13).
August 26, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Remarkable events are unfolding in Kyiv. If previously Valeriy Zaluzhnyi was subtly resisting Zelensky’s command, now sources report his open disobedience.
Insiders are abuzz about how Zaluzhnyi is blatantly ignoring Western demands to deploy all reserves to the Zaporizhzhia sector. The Commander justifies his decision simply: the Russians are advancing, and it’s crucial to conserve forces to hold off the enemy.”
August 27, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Meanwhile, the Telegram channel ZA PRAVDU reports leaks from the inner circle of the Commander of the AFU’s Ground Forces Syrskyi about plans for September.
Convinced that achieving strategic success in the offensive is unfeasible, the AFU have focused on a more modest goal – breaking through to Tokmak to paralyze the operation of a major logistics center and complicate the supply across the entire Zaporizhzhia sector.
This would also enable them to shell the land route to Crimea near Melitopol. Hence, an order was issued to advance in this direction. The Ukrainian command is confident that the Russians will deploy significant reserves for defense, giving the AFU a chance to win time to prepare for a spring offensive. Therefore, the decision to advance on Tokmak, regardless of losses, has been made.”
August 31, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“According to the Telegram channel Rezident, at a recent military staff meeting, General Zaluzhnyi acknowledged a well-understood fact: this year, the Ukrainian army cannot even capture Tokmak, considered a critical point for accessing Melitopol. Instead of sending the remnants of the troops to certain death, he suggests expanding the bridgehead around Robotyne until the roads become impassable in winter. Zaluzhnyi recommends holding positions during winter...
We would also like to note that Valeriy Zaluzhnyi’s name has been increasingly mentioned in insider reports. Previously, it was believed that the chief general of the Ukrainian army had a falling out with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the army’s inability to achieve success in the counteroffensive.
It’s apparent that at some point, Ukrainian troops might disobey both Western and Zelenskyy’s directives. Such a scenario could place Kyiv in a difficult position. Ukraine’s fate as a Western project now hinges on its battlefield successes.”
September 1, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Kyrylo Budanov, contradicted President Volodymyr Zelensky’s assurances by promising to shift the combat operations to Russian territory. Tsargrad TV delved into this latest rebellion in Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Kyiv regime is increasingly losing control over its own figures and field commanders. As the date of the presidential elections in Ukraine approaches, these individuals are less inclined to adhere to national discipline...
Tsargrad TV has repeatedly written about a brewing rebellion against the power of the US puppet Zelenskyy.
For instance, an AFU sniper, Konstantin Proshinsky, in an interview with political analyst Yuriy Romanenko’s YouTube channel, stated that the Ukrainian people are tired of war, as reported by Yuri Pronko, an economic commentator of Pervyi Russkiy, on the Tsargrad.Glavnoye program.
The soldier added that contrary to the Kyiv regime’s firm stance, the AFU are ready to settle the conflict following the Korean scenario. Proshinsky emphasized that President Zelenskyy’s and his allies’ dream of returning to the 1991 borders is a completely unrealistic scenario in the near future...
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the legendary founder of the Wagner private military company, had previously spoken about the sentiments within the ranks of the AFU, from officers to the rank-and-file, disagreeing with the policies of official Kyiv. He was aware of the attitudes in the enemy’s frontline ranks from his fighters. In spring 2023, the businessman commented on the situation in Bakhmut, where fierce fighting was taking place...
’In Chasiv Yar and Kostiantynivka, rebellions have started among the AFU soldiers: they are dropping their weapons, standing up, and leaving,’ Prigozhin informed the media at the time.”
September 3, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“The German press, followed by other European media, has once again found sensational ‘evidence’ that it was Kyiv, and not anyone else, that blew up two strings of the Nord Stream pipeline. It seems that Zelenskyy’s overseers have ultimately decided to pin the blame for this act of international terrorism on their protégé, as if on a dead person. It appears that the Ukrainian President’s days are numbered…
The immediate future for Zelenskyy and his circle looks grim. He will most likely be killed. Then, after a nod from Washington, the German Federal Criminal Police will officially, without any leaks, present ‘irrefutable evidence’ that Ukraine organized and carried out the Nord Stream explosion. Conveniently blaming Zelenskyy for orchestrating this international terrorist act and claiming that ‘Kyiv acted out of control and committed atrocities that the U.S. will not take responsibility for’ solves Washington’s problem of disengaging from the conflict in Ukraine in light of Russia’s looming victory…”
September 11, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“A former CIA analyst spoke about the threat of a military coup against the authorities of Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine, which could be orchestrated by the AFU.
The AFU could organize and lead an armed uprising against Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s regime. This opinion was expressed by former CIA analyst Larry Johnson in an interview with the YouTube channel Dialogue Works…”
September 13, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“The Ukrainian government is floundering – the counteroffensive is stuck, there’s a shortage of manpower, and the prospects are getting worse every day. Zelenskyy’s administration, as always, tries to wriggle out through PR, but even that is no longer working.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, is now openly starting to sabotage the President’s orders, according to the Telegram channel Rezident, known for its insider information.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the military to capture the city of Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia Region before the onset of cold weather. However, understanding the impracticality of such a plan, Zaluzhnyi took matters into his own hands. He prohibited General Alexander Tarnavskyi from deploying reserves and limited the redeployment of new units to the southern front…
Currently, rumors suggest that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is actively meeting with local elites, promising its patronage if they distance themselves from Zelenskyy. Insiders claim that the Americans are leaning towards a Korean scenario with a freeze on the conflict because if the Ukrainian army is defeated, the U.S. will completely lose its colony.”
On September 19, 2023, Russian media began to directly mention the preparation of a “third Maidan” to overthrow Zelensky with the involvement of the U.S. and Ukrainian military. Russian propagandist Sergey Markelov even named potential successors to the Ukrainian presidency: Head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence Budanov, Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhnyi, Deputy Prime Minister Fedorov, and former advisor Arestovych.
However, after this, there was a noticeable decrease in the frequency of mentions regarding the “Maidan” theme and the removal of Zelenskyy. Notable mentions of a “coup in Kyiv” and conflicts between Zelenskyy and the military reappeared on September 27 in connection with the uproar in Ukrainian media about a criminal case against the military command for the rapid capture of Kherson on October 5, citing an obscure American “expert,” and on October 30 referencing a publication in Time magazine.
Ultimately, it can be said that a month after Prigozhin’s death, Russian propaganda lost interest in the narrative of a “military revolt against Zelenskyy.” However, they enthusiastically used similar messages that appeared in the Western press. This practice resembles the period of 2015–2019 when publications predicting a “third Maidan” appeared at least monthly to maintain the narrative of Ukraine as a “failed state.”
September 19, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Political analyst and advisor Sergey Markelov believes a coup in Ukraine, while the country’s president is away in the U.S., is quite possible. He pointed out that the conflict within the Ukrainian elite is immense, currently restrained only by the need for unity in the conflict with Russia.
In this context, Sergey Markelov does not rule out the start of a third Maidan in Ukraine. He explained that this method of state coup has become a tool of the Ukrainian nation. People, having once used a tool, can use it again. It does not require new learning, just reproduction, explained the political analyst.
According to Sergey Markelov, there are two groups of candidates for the Ukrainian presidency. The first group includes military or military-related individuals. Prominent among the military are the Head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR), Kyrylo Budanov, and the Commander-in-Chief of the AFU, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi. They are already trained by propaganda for the potential throne, emphasized the political analyst.
Among civilian candidates, Deputy Prime Minister for Innovation, Education, Science, and Technology Development, Mykhailo Fedorov stands out. He has his own party and is known as a stable person, not a scandal-monger. Another significant figure starting to ramp up his campaign is former presidential office advisor Oleksiy Arestovych. He is seen as a national spiritual guide, an esoteric, popular psychologist, and worked for the presidential office, explained Sergey Markelov.”
September 23, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Not everyone in the West appreciates Georgia’s stance on the Ukrainian crisis. Tbilisi has chosen neutrality in the conflict and is building mutually beneficial relations with Russia. Against this backdrop, Georgian security forces have identified clear signs of preparation for a state coup. It will be carried out by Zelenskyy. Details in Tsargrad’s report.
According to the State Security Service of Georgia, from October to December, a group plans to organize disorder in the country following the Euromaidan scenario in Ukraine and seize power through a coup.
It’s noted that the coup’s organizers aim to time the unrest with the publication of reports by the European Commission on Georgia, simultaneously accusing the Georgian government of supporting Russia.
The Georgian intelligence services name the Deputy Head of Ukrainian Military Intelligence Giorgi Lortkipanidze, Mikheil Baturin (former bodyguard of Mikheil Saakashvili), and Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of the Georgian Legion operating within the AFU, as the authors of the coup.
The plan’s implementation is said to be coordinated and financially supported by foreign countries, the report says.
To execute the coup, they plan to use Georgians currently fighting for Ukraine, as well as a part of the pro-Western Georgian youth. They are currently being trained at the Polish-Ukrainian border, learning to erect ‘tent cities’ and build barricades, just like during the Euromaidan.”
September 27, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“In Ukraine, Zaluzhnyi was interrogated in a case concerning the surrender of part of the Kherson Region. Why has the investigation started now, and is the general facing prison? Let’s analyze the situation…
As the election nears, it’s crucial to undermine Zaluzhnyi’s rating, whom influential political groups are ready to support, explained the expert.
Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries, Vladimir Zharikhin, shares a similar view. He also believes that no one will arrest Zaluzhnyi. The criminal case is a warning from Zelenskyy to the general not to meddle in politics.
Zaluzhnyi is irritating Zelenskyy because the West hails the commander as a hero. The President has valid concerns that if partners decide to replace him, the general would be the most suitable option.”
September 27, 2023, Regnum:
“Observers from ‘RIA Novosti’ link the initiation of the ‘Kherson’ criminal case to an underlying conflict between the Commander-in-Chief of the AFU and Kyiv’s regime head, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which has been discussed in the media for a long time. According to them, if Zaluzhnyi seriously engages in politics, he would pose significant competition to Zelenskyy.
It was reported that Zaluzhnyi is ready to be supported by the opposition led by ex-President Petro Poroshenko and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. In the West, he is also praised, being called ‘first after God’ for Ukrainian soldiers.
Experts believe that Zelenskyy needs this criminal case for the presidential and parliamentary elections. ‘As the election approaches, it’s important to undermine Zaluzhnyi’s rating, whom influential political groups are ready to support,’ said Denis Denisov, an expert from the Financial University under the Government of Russia, in a conversation with the agency. Moreover, he added, Kyiv wants to shift blame for its mistakes or, if that fails, to divert attention from them.”
September 27, 2023, “Lenta.ru”:
“Earlier, in a conversation with Lenta.ru, political scientist Dmitry Zhuravlev stated that in the event of presidential elections in Ukraine in 2024, aside from Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi could also win.
The political scientist noted that it is extremely difficult to speak about alternative presidential candidates, especially among politicians: during the military conflict, the political elite has virtually disappeared, giving way to military figures. Among them, Zaluzhnyi is the most popular, according to Zhuravlev.”
September 27, 2023, “Ukraina.ru”:
“If America wants to replace Zelensky, it means that by that time military actions should be stopped, and the U.S. will propose their version of a compromise, said Alexey Zubets, Director of the Institute of Socio-Economic Research of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, in an interview with Ukraina.ru.
Purging the Ukrainian power is impossible while military actions are ongoing. And the fact that the U.S. is aiming for a purge of the top echelons means that by next spring, they plan to end the hostilities, Zubets explained…
Ukrainian soldiers’ dissatisfaction with what is happening in the rear is enormous. When they return home from the front, the authorities will only have the option to flee. Commander-in-Chief of the AFU Valeriy Zaluzhnyi is popular in Ukrainian society, and he has real forces capable of purging the Ukrainian elite behind him, the source concluded…
With the help of the grain scandal, the States are tarnishing Zelenskyy’s image, and a person with a damaged reputation cannot win elections, which will most likely take place next spring, added the expert.
’The Americans are inclined to think that either Zelensky will leave on his own, or in these elections, someone like [AFU Commander-in-Chief Valeriy] Zaluzhnyi will come to power. And because Zaluzhnyi is Zelensky’s competitor, they are framing him in a criminal case for the surrender of the southern regions at the beginning of the SMO,’ emphasized Zubets.
Valeriy Zaluzhnyi has very close ties with America. He communicates with U.S. officials every week, discussing weapons supplies, strategy, and tactics. So far, big oligarchic clans do not stand behind him, concluded the publication’s source.”
September 30, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Another scandal is brewing within the Ukrainian government. The corridors of Kyiv’s government are being shaken by a story of loud betrayal from the country’s chief general. Zelenskyy’s entourage believes that Valeriy Zaluzhnyi has ‘taken a dive’ on the counteroffensive.
The bold accusations of betrayal, as usual, were published by the insider Telegram channel Rezident. The source reports that the President’s office suspects Valeriy Zaluzhnyi of sabotaging military headquarters’ decisions on the so-called Azov operation. Politicians believe the general blocked the operation to cross the Dnieper from its inception, which was supposed to be the second phase of the ‘offensive.’”
October 5, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“The U.S. is preparing for Zelenskyy’s resignation. Concurrently, support for Ukraine from the West is diminishing. The only question is when the final chord will sound. Will the Americans force Ukraine to conduct elections and negotiate with Russia? We sought answers with Alexander Ananyev, a former employee of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv, who worked in the structure just before the Maidan.
The ‘Volodymyr Zelensky project’ is apparently coming to an end. Considering the amount of investment in Ukraine and the lack of significant progress, the West is increasingly expressing dissatisfaction. According to Stephen Bryen of the Yorktown Institute’s Center for Security Policy, it’s quite possible that American overseers might stop aiding Ukraine and even initiate Zelenskyy’s resignation due to the lack of notable successes on the battlefield.”
During the same period, particularly on September 23, Russian media commented on reports from Georgian intelligence services about the alleged involvement of Ukrainian authorities in preparing a state coup in Georgia by organizing mass protests – a “Maidan”. This claim, amidst previous “news” about the potential fall of the Ukrainian government itself due to internal issues, seemed implausible. However, such details did not concern the Russians.
There’s no mobilization, but without migrants and unemployed “volunteer contract soldiers”, it is unfeasible.
In the first part of the September review, we looked at how actions by Ukrainian intelligence and special operations forces caused significant trouble and damage to the Kremlin’s image and the Russian army.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that amidst loud and unpleasant news from the battlefield, Putin was forced to engage in military propaganda personally. However, it seems he enjoys talking about the hyperbolized losses of the Ukrainian army and convincing himself and the Russians that thousands of them are “voluntarily” ready to sacrifice their lives for the regime’s reckless military venture.
For greater impact, aimed not only at the domestic audience but also at foreign media, Putin used the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. It was there that everyone learned about the incredible losses of the AFU, the 270,000 “volunteer contract soldiers,” and how anti-Russian sanctions only strengthened the country’s economy.
Vladivostok, September 12. TASS: “President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, speaking at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum, listed the conditions necessary for the start of peace negotiations with Kyiv: the annulment of the Ukrainian decree prohibiting such negotiations and the cessation of the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Furthermore, the head of state touched upon the situation with the ruble exchange rate, fuel prices, the expansion of the Far Eastern mortgage program, demography, and the status of migrants in Russia...
About the fighting spirit in Russia
In the last six to seven months, 270,000 people have signed contracts to serve in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and volunteer units. Every day, 1,000–1,500 people voluntarily sign up for contract service. ‘Our men, Russian men, understand what awaits them, that they may give their lives for the motherland, receive serious injuries, and still go consciously and voluntarily.’ ‘They are defending the interests of the motherland.’”
Vladivostok, September 12. TASS: “The losses of Ukraine since the beginning of the counteroffensive amount to 71.5 thousand people, and yet, there are no results. This was stated by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum.
’Ukraine is conducting the so-called counteroffensive. There are no results, of course. Now let’s not say whether it’s a failure or not, there are no results, but there are losses. Big ones. Since the beginning of this counteroffensive, the losses in personnel are 71.5 thousand people,’ said Putin.
According to him, Kyiv has already lost 543 tanks and nearly 18 thousand armored vehicles of various classes.”
Both of Putin’s messages about Ukraine’s losses and the flow of “volunteers,” were, in our opinion, created and disseminated with a single purpose — to prepare and provide a cover for a new wave of hidden mobilization.
To support Putin’s claims, throughout September, propagandists deliberately maintained suspense and supported tension in Russian society regarding the possibility of new mobilization measures.
Specifically, they quoted Shoigu with his ambiguous assurances that mobilized forces “for now, are sufficient.”
They focused on the words of the Leningrad governor about the need for rotation of the mobilized in the autumn of 2022.
They hinted at the possibility of expanding the categories of mobilized by reducing the list of diseases that disqualify individuals from military service.
They emphasized the need to replenish the ranks of the Russian army after losses sustained during the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
They invoked the need to prepare Russia and its army for a direct confrontation with NATO during World War III.
At the same time, they tried to sweeten these bitter expectations with promises of recruiting migrants from Central Asian countries, the unemployed, and primarily “volunteers.” Eventually, they once again broadcast the head of the “deputy commander” of the Russian General Staff on mobilization to refute rumors of a new wave.
However, as in the case of denying the preparation of war against Ukraine, all this appears as a deliberate information operation to prepare the population for the announcement of a decision already made.”
September 9, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“For a month now in Russia, rumors of a second wave of mobilization have not subsided. Meanwhile, online discussions increasingly suggest that this time the front will see new citizens of the country — those who came to Russia and received passports through naturalization.
Talks about involving yesterday’s migrants in the SMO have been going on for a long time. Over time, authorities even started preparing legislative groundwork for this. Now the idea of involving former migrants in the country’s common cause has moved from discussions to practical implementation. Police raids in areas densely populated by migrants clearly indicate this. Yesterday’s guest workers are being directed to military recruitment offices and registered.
Of course, mobilization issues came as a bolt from the blue for the ‘new citizens.’ However, if we just look at the statistics, it turns out that last year, 691,000 people who came to Russia received our passports. Mostly, these were citizens of Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan. If we assume that a third of them are young men (this observation is purely empirical), then we get 230,000 new recruits. That’s 23 divisions. And this is just looking at last year’s statistics...
The governor of the Leningrad region, Alexander Drozdenko, added fuel to the fire, stating the necessity of rotating military personnel in the special operation zone and even promising to address this issue to the country’s top leadership. He emphasized that last year’s partial mobilization was calculated on the basis that the mobilized would stay at the front for six months. But in the end, they have been fighting for 9 to 11 months without the opportunity to go home on leave. Federal authorities have so far said nothing about this (if we don’t count the June statement by Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that mobilized and volunteers are sufficient for now).”
September 17, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Should we expect a new wave of mobilization? The news about the reduction of the number of diseases for deferment from the army became a wake-up call. And in the Zaporizhzhia sector, the fighting is getting closer to the ‘Surovikin line’.
Discussions about a second wave of partial mobilization are taking place in the context of a challenging situation on the front. AFU Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, who has successfully rehabilitated after an injury, decided to change tactics and made a ‘suicidal’ decision. However, this bloody decision concerned ordinary Ukrainian soldiers, who were ruthlessly sent into ‘meat grinder assaults.’
According to Lieutenant General Andrey Gurulev, a member of the State Duma, Ukrainians are forced to actively use assaults because only then can they ‘destroy everything around.’
Some sectors indeed show results from this bloody practice. Military correspondents report a dire situation in the areas of Klishchiyivka and Andriyivka. Heavy fighting is also taking place near the ‘Surovikin line’ on the Zaporizhzhia sector. In three months, the AFU had overcome the support strip and started attacking the main positions.
August and early September were challenging. Although a new mobilization seems unlikely, it is deemed highly necessary by military correspondent Roman Saponkov.
Relatives find it difficult to live without a clear idea of when the military will return home. The end date of the special military Operation is unclear. Combat operations are likely to continue into the next year. There is a need for rotation. A new wave of partial mobilization could assist in this. However, the authorities currently only mention that all servicemen are entitled to a six-monthly leave.
The only certain fact is that the mobilized will return home when the SMO in Ukraine is finished.
Military expert Vlad Shurygin assured that if there is no rotation, there will be no mobilization. Recruiting people is simple, but it’s much more problematic to clothe and arm them. The strength of the Russian army has increased approximately threefold compared to last September. Additionally, contract soldiers, who voluntarily join the army to defend the Motherland, are actively being recruited.”
September 18, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“A female corporal in Russia was convicted of evading mobilization, making it the first case of its kind, journalists insist.
The Judicial Board for Criminal Cases of the Southern District Military Court sentenced Corporal Madina Kabalova, reports Kommersant, noting that this is the first such decision — the woman, as stated in the verdict, left the unit without a valid reason during the period of mobilization. She faces 7 to 10 years of imprisonment, according to the charges.
Interestingly, before the criminal case was initiated, Kabalova arrived at the medical company of the military unit and received a recommendation for a temporary exemption from service. The defendant was pregnant and also had a child born in 2018. However, after Madina Kabalova did not report to the military unit’s leadership, a criminal case was initiated.
In court, the defendant admitted that she failed to appear on orders but recalled that, according to the certificate, she had been released from service. Kabaloeva believed that the medical service had brought the information to the command. The military prosecutor considered the arguments untenable, the 360 TV channel reported. It was announced that the servicewoman continued to enjoy benefits and was on the allowance but did not report for duty on demand during the mobilization period.
The Garnizonny Court decided to impose a ‘near-minimum’ sentence and also applied a suspended sentence due to pregnancy and an underage child. Lawyer Roman Rabadanov will appeal the sentence.”
September 26, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“In the midst of talks about prospects for a new wave of mobilization, State Duma deputy Andrey Gurulev suddenly declared that the unemployed should be mobilized. It is worth noting that there aren’t many unemployed in Russia — just 3%...
However, on social media, the most attention from all these statements was drawn to remarks about the possible mobilization of the unemployed. Some see in them a direct hint. Now users are advising the unemployed to be wary, suggesting that they would be the first to be mobilized. There are even sweeping assertions that Gurulev has supposedly revealed secret plans for a new wave of mobilization. Supporters of this theory argue that unemployed people do not contribute to the country’s economy, and it would not suffer much if they were sent to the front.”
September 27, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“While some fear a new [wave of] mobilization, others reassure that it will not happen, and yet others talk about its necessity. Fighters are needed in the Special Military Operation zone, regardless. Yes, the ranks of the enemy are being decimated by tens, even hundreds, daily. According to fresh data from the Russian Ministry of Defense, just in the Donetsk sector, units of the Southern group repelled 34 attacks by AFU fighters, resulting in the enemy losing over 1700 (!) soldiers killed and wounded. But, unfortunately, we also have losses.
’The last month has been challenging for us. It’s unclear whether this is due to the depletion of reserves or other factors. In any case, we are now in the pre-election story, and new mobilization is unlikely, although extremely necessary,’ notes military correspondent Roman Saponkov.
The words of the head of the State Duma Committee on Defense, Andrey Kartapolov, sound no less worrying. When asked by journalists when the mobilized will return home, he answered clearly and uncompromisingly: ‘They will return home after the completion of the Special Military Operation. No rotation is planned.’
It’s impossible not to note that the mobilized men have been in the army for almost a year, and the end dates of the SMO (and we can only conclude the operation with Victory) are unclear. Moreover, experts suggest that the conflict will stretch into the next year. Therefore, rotation under such conditions is crucial. It is vital.
Vlad Shurygin, a member of the Izborsky Club and military expert, believes that if no one plans to rotate fighters, then there will be no mobilization.
’It’s easy to recruit people. But they need to be clothed, shod, and, most importantly, armed. Therefore, so far, I do not see signs of future mobilization,’ Shurygin noted in a conversation with a Tsargrad correspondent. ‘Our forces have grown approximately threefold compared to last September. There is active recruitment of contract soldiers — people who voluntarily join the army.’
However, even if another wave of partial mobilization does occur, it will not be as wild and furious as in Ukraine.
’To avoid mistakes and chaos, electronic databases are being created, legislation is being streamlined, and several medical barriers are being removed, which previously prevented even volunteers from signing contracts. The army is changing, being tempered in battles, gaining confidence, and becoming an invincible force,’ concludes Andrey Revnivtsev.”
September 29, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Long queues have formed in front of military recruitment offices in St. Petersburg, causing mild panic. Tsargrad finds out whether to expect a second wave of mobilization.
Long lines were observed in front of military recruitment offices in three districts of St. Petersburg on Friday, significantly alarming local residents. Tsargrad investigates what is happening.
The long queues were seen in front of the recruitment offices in the Central, Vyborg, and Kirov districts of St. Petersburg, causing concern among the local population. Rumors spread that ‘it has begun.’
However, it turned out that the majority waiting were HR officers from companies, who came to submit information about employees for military accounting. This is due to a change in the Administrative Offenses Code normative, which increased the fine for violations in this area from 5,000 to 400–500 thousand rubles.”
September 29, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Should we expect mobilization?
Military observer and blogger Kirill Fyodorov explained the progress of the SMO and how Russia’s current strategy is working…
’If we could have conducted a successful offensive with the capture of major cities like Kharkiv or Zaporizhzhia, we would have struck the enemy’s morale and cut them off from the mobilization resources concentrated in these major cities. I don’t see other options. We can entertain the audience with our optimistic fantasies, but I prefer to be a realist,’ said the observer.
The expert is convinced that Russia needs to announce a new mobilization for the successful advancement of the SMO forces. He believes that Russia does not need peace but victory, which is only possible on the battlefield.”
September 29, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“Deputy Chief of the Main Organizational-Mobilization Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Rear Admiral Vladimir Tsimlyansky, made a statement on mobilization.
Amid new rumors and misinformation about a ‘second wave of mobilization,’ the General Staff made an important statement on this matter, concerning the whole of Russia.
’I want to emphasize separately that the General Staff has no plans for additional mobilization measures,’ said Deputy Chief of the Main Organizational-Mobilization Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Rear Admiral Vladimir Tsimlyansky, during a briefing.
He also stressed that ‘to fulfill the assigned tasks’ volunteers deciding to participate in the SMO zone and wishing to become contractual soldiers and sign an agreement with the Russian Ministry of Defense are sufficient.
Tsimlyansky noted that the number of those who have decided to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense voluntarily has ‘significantly increased.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin previously debunked rumors about an impending second wave of mobilization.
Additionally, Russian State Duma Deputy General-Lieutenant Andrey Gurulev commented on the situation for Tsargrad, stating that a new wave of mobilization is not only unnecessary but also harmful at this time.
The expert referred to a recent statement by Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, according to which 320,000 volunteer contract soldiers have already been recruited into the army. Plus, 70% of the wounded on the front successfully recover and return to duty.
’And I think that the current number is sufficient for us at this stage. The main thing here is to synchronize the MIC. And indeed, two million people have already been mobilized. But you need to clothe them, provide footwear, weapons, equipment, ammunition, and everything else,’ explained Andrey Gurulev on the Tsargrad.Glavnoye program.”
September 29, 2023, “Tsargrad TV”:
“To avoid stopping at today’s lines, will we have to carry out a mobilization?
— What for? We’ve recruited 320,000 volunteer contract soldiers. Understandably, some are wounded, sick, and so on. But 70% of our wounded recover and return to duty. The number we have is sufficient.
’From Finland to the Arctic’
— When will the SMO end? I’m not asking how, that’s clear.
— In about five years. I don’t understand the lines at which it will end. At the very least, it won’t be less than the western borders of Ukraine. But there are possibilities. Today, the threats are quite serious. From Finland, which is being turned into another Ukraine with weapons influx and NATO infrastructure construction, to the Arctic. There, serious movements by the Americans are beginning. I won’t talk about the Caucasus; everyone knows everything perfectly well. The Taiwan issue hasn’t gone away. And if it starts, it will explode far louder than the SMO. Not just one, two, or three countries will be involved there.
— Does this mean a world war is coming?
— It’s already underway. The question is how the escalation will occur. We must be ready.”
Archival photo: mobilization in Russia, October 2022 (Getty Images).