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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Unease Evident In Moscow As Putin's War Falters

Whether or not the Ukraine counteroffensive that began in early June 2023 succeeds in dislodging Russian troops from occupied territory, there are growing signs that the push has prompted anxiety back in Moscow, Prof. Peter Rutland of the Wesleyan University wrote in an analysis for The Conversation.

Photo Insert: There is reportedly a clear sense in Russia that the war is going badly.

This was evident, Rutland claimed, in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting on June 13 with a group of influential military bloggers – people who support the war but have at times been critical of the way it is being fought.

The meeting was unusual as Putin has avoided public statements about the war and postponed his annual Russia Day phone-in show scheduled for June. He also canceled both the June call-in in 2022 as well as his annual news conference in December.

In that meeting, Putin used the word “war” to refer to his invasion of Ukraine. He admitted drone attacks in Moscow, shelling and cross-border attacks in Belgorod, as well as serious battlefield losses.

At the same time, Putin is facing a political challenge from Yevgeny Prigozhin, the erstwhile chef-turned-mercenary leader. Prigozhin heads the Wagner Group, a private company that has recruited some 50,000 fighters for the Ukraine war on behalf of Moscow.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

After the fall of Bakhmut, polling showed that Prigozhin broke into the list of top 10 trusted officials as seen by ordinary Russians for the first time. The Russian elite seems to share the growing unease aired among the bloggers.

On May 20-21, Russian officials and policy experts attended a meeting of the influential Council on Foreign and Security Policy think tank. Judging by reports from people who attended, such as State Duma Deputy Konstantin Zatulin, there was a clear sense that the war is going badly.

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