Staunton, Nov. 17 – Sources close to the Kremlin tell the Meduza news agency that Russian elites, in the wake of the Kherson fiasco, are increasingly convinced that Moscow has lost the war on the ground in Ukraine but that despite that they aren’t ready to challenge Vladimir Putin, the man behind that war.
One reason for that, the news agency says, is that the Russian population has not been much affected by Kherson and continues to support Putin’s policies, reducing the chances that any elite challenge to Putin’s power could work and increasing the risks that he could turn it against them (meduza.io/feature/2022/11/18/nastoyaschuyu-voynu-my-proigrali).
If the elites and other attentive publics have been aghast at what has happened in Kherson, the Russian people in contrast has largely ignored events there. The Kremlin has ensured that the media the population most relies on – state television – has downplayed these events and so Putin’s narrative of victory remains intact.
The Putin regime was helped in this by the fact that Kherson happened just as the regime declared partial mobilization, Kremlin sources tell Meduza. People focused on mobilization because it brought the war home instead of on Kherson which for most of them remains far away.