Russian Soldiers Can’t Stop Criticizing Vladimir Putin: Russian President Vladimir Putin has long benefitted from the overwhelming support of the Russian people for his war in Ukraine, but following a series of embarrassing defeats – starting with the retreat of his soldiers from Kyiv in March and more recently the heavy losses in Kharkiv – Russian soldiers appear to be turning on their president.
A series of intercepted phone calls and admissions on social media reveal just how Russian soldiers feel about President Putin following his announcement of the “partial mobilization” of his military last Wednesday.
Putin the “F*ck Face”
In intercepted audio released by Ukrainian intelligence this week, one Russian soldier, believed to be fighting in the Kherson region, called President Putin a “f*ck face” and mocked his announcement of military mobilization in Ukraine.
When a woman, who may have been the soldier’s partner or mother, asks him what he intends to do, the soldier responded, “I don’t know, I need to get wounded.”
“Earlier there was a joke that you’d leave here only wounded or dead. Now it’s not a f*cking joke,” the soldier continues, before asking the woman on the line about “f*ck face” Putin’s speech to the nation.
In audio exclusively obtained by the New York Times this week, soldiers can also be heard complaining about being drafted to serve in Ukraine despite receiving no military training.
“Nobody told us we were going to war. They warned us one day before we left,” one soldier said.
“We were all going for training for two or three days…we were f*cking fooled like little kids,” another soldier said.
In another phone call, a soldier identified as “Sergey” told his mother that the war in Ukraine was the “stupidest decision our government ever made.”
Another soldier asked his partner when Putin is going to end the war, prompting the response, “He says everything is going to plan according to the plan and the timeline.”
“He was gravely mistaken,” the soldier replies.
“They Will All Die There”
Other soldiers have gone on the record about the Russian military’s chances in Ukraine. Russian news outlet Meduza published quotes from professional soldiers and mercenaries who have fought on the frontlines in Ukraine, most of whom painted a picture of an unwinnable war.
“To be honest, they will all die there. They are going to get hurt and die. This is not a trained army! For example, I have been serving [on a contract] for a long time, and fought my way [to the front] – and still turned out to be not ready. On the very first day, I realized that I had made the biggest mistake of my life,” Kyrylo, a professional soldier told the outlet.
Another soldier named Anatoliy, a mercenary said that the best case scenario would see soldiers remaining in the reserve, and the worst case scenario would see soldiers “die valiantly.”
With a severe lack of faith among his soldiers, low morale, and even professional soldiers predicting losses in Ukraine, it’s no wonder President Putin is increasingly relying on threats of nuclear war to secure some kind of victory in Ukraine.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.