Staunton, May 15– Russian military correspondents are now sending back to Moscow stories that have convinced many editors of Kremlin media outlets that Russia is facing “imminent failure” in Ukraine and forcing them to think about how to report the news so that the population will be “prepared for a fiasco,” according to a journalist privy to their thinking.
The independent Verstka news agency reports the comments of an employee of one of these outlets speaking on condition of anonymity. He says that this is the third phase that Moscow editors have gone through in reporting Putin’s war in Ukraine (verstka.media/tretya-stadia-propagandy-rasskaz-propagandista).
In the first phase, which lasted for a few days at the start of the conflict, editors were swept along with a euphoria resembling that which infected them at the time of the Crimean Anschluss in 2014 and made sure that what was published reflected those feelings and even encouraged them.
Then, when it became obvious that the war was going to take longer and involve failures as well as successes, the editors, according to this informant, changed their editorial approach and tried to put both successes and failures in the context of what they still believed would be ultimate success.
But now, the anonymous source says, they feel that disaster is ahead and are struggling to come up with ways to communicate that fact, without saying or doing anything that will invite the anger of those above them. Unless they do the first, they will lose more of their audience; unless they do the latter, they may lose their jobs or worse.
It is impossible to know either how reliable this source is or how widespread the attitudes he reports are, but what he is saying is certainly plausible and may reflect a development far more important than just the wishful thinking of those who would like to see the Russian media do a better job even as the Russian armed forces suffer losses.