Russian military veteran Khodaryonok in a damning assessment of the war in Ukraine

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Destroyed military equipment of the Russian army in the town of Bucha.

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In a country where independent media and commentary have all but disappeared from public view, it is rare to hear dissenting voices on Russia’s many state-controlled television networks, especially now with the country at war. with Ukraine.

But a well-known military analyst and veteran stood out this week after appearing on state television and giving a damning assessment of the invasion of Ukraine, or what Russia calls its “special military operation”. “.

“The situation, frankly, is going to get worse for us,” Mikhail Khodaryonok, a retired Russian army colonel, told the “60 Minutes” talk show of the Rossiya-1 TV show hosted by Olga Skabeyeva, known for his pro-Kremlin stance. .

“You shouldn’t swallow informative tranquilizers,” Khodaryonok told host, warning that Ukraine was by no means close to being beaten by Russia and that Kyiv could mobilize and arm a million men if she wanted to.

Khodaryonok, who is also a defense columnist for gazeta.ru newspaper and a graduate of one of Russia’s elite military academies, according to Reuters, had previously warned Russia against invading neighboring Ukraine, saying that it was not in Russia’s national interest.

His advice ignored, Russia has now been nearly three months into a bloody conflict in Ukraine with only a few significant territorial gains to the east and south, and with the invasion likely to turn into a long-running war of attrition. term with brave Ukrainian fighters. and a resilience underestimated by Moscow.

Moscow has already had to scale back its apparent strategy of invading Ukraine from the north, east and south and has now concentrated its fighting forces in eastern Ukraine, in the Donbass region.

Khodaryonok pointed out that even if Ukraine had to rely on hundreds of thousands of conscripts who had only rudimentary military training, what mattered was that their hearts were in the fight, and that did not bode well. good for Russia.

“The desire to defend one’s homeland in the sense that it exists in Ukraine – it really exists there and they intend to fight until the end,” Khodaryonok said before being cut off by Skabeyeva who was trying to play down the effectiveness of Ukrainian forces.

Neither Khodaryonok nor Skabeyeva could be reached for comment, Reuters reported.

“The world is against us”

On the world stage, Russia is now largely ostracized and punished to the bitter end, with even its former allies in China and India unnerved by the length of the conflict.

“The main shortcoming of our military-political position is that we are in complete geopolitical solitude and – even if we do not want to admit it – practically the whole world is against us … and we must get out of this situation,” Khodaryonok the talk show continued, with fellow studio guests appearing stunned by his candid criticism.

While Russia is increasingly isolated, the West appears more united than ever. Ukraine’s allies in the West continue to supply arms to kyiv and the invasion of Russia has seen NATO, the Western military alliance, tighten its security measures. In fact, Russia’s invasion only served to strengthen the alliance with Finland and Sweden now seeking to join the organization.

Russia based its attack on Ukraine largely on opposition to its NATO membership (a prospect that was not imminent) and invariably blamed NATO for the invasion, while blaming the military alliance to prepare to invade what Moscow considers Russian territory to the east. Ukraine, where two self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics are located in the Donbass.

But his response to NATO’s forthcoming enlargement to Finland and Sweden remained silent. Although he initially threatened “retaliatory action” against the expansion, with President Vladimir Putin calling it “a problem”, he has since said the expansion was not making much of a difference. Geopolitical analysts have noted that there is little Russia can do about enlargement anyway, although Russia has threatened action if NATO military infrastructure is placed in Sweden or Finland. .

Khodaryonok said Russia needed to see the reality of the situation in Ukraine: “The main thing in our business is to have a sense of military-political realism: if you go beyond that, the reality of history will hit you so hard you don’t know what hit you,” he said.

“Don’t wave rockets in the direction of Finland, for God’s sake, it looks kinda funny,” he said.

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