Thursday, March 31, 2022

Handling of Report on Combat Losses in Ukraine Shows Putin’s System Hardly a Well-Oiled Machine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 22 – The Putin system is hardly the well-oiled machine many of its operatives and others believe it to be. Its components make mistakes and these have to be corrected on an ad hoc basis, often in ways that suggest just how fragile the current arrangements within the powers that be in fact are.

            This characteristic of Putin’s rule has been highlighted by the way in which Komsomolskaya Pravda first published data on Russian combat losses in Ukraine and then had to retract them after they were notices by someone on Twitter, even though the Internet being the Internet, they did not disappear (

            In a post on its website, the Moscow paper reported the defense ministry had said that Russian forces have suffered 9861 deaths and 16,153 wounded so far in the Ukraine campaign. After Twitter noticed this, the paper took the report down and blamed unauthorized persons for posting it (, and

            It is not entirely clear what happened in this case given that other journalists say the defense ministry made no such declaration about losses. (The ministry has announced them once during the campaign, on March 3, when it said there had been 498 deaths and 1597 wounded.) But what is clear is the Kremlin lacks the effective control over its own outlets that many assume

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