The war of movement in the Ukraine has turned into a war of position. Ukraine manages to hold many of its positions, while the Russian army struggles with a lack of morale and supply problems. Sentiment among Russian nationalists is at rock bottom.

The territorial gains of both armies in Ukraine are currently marginal. An analysis by the Institute for the Study of War shows that the mood among Russian nationalists and supporters of the war is currently at a low point.

In its latest analysis, the renowned US think tank refers to the Russian military blogger Igor Girkin, who in an article settled accounts with the Russian war effort. In a detailed list, Girkin formulated military, economic and political measures that the Kremlin must now take in order to still win the war.

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First on that list is the move away from the notion of “special operations.” This is how the Kremlin euphemistically describes its war of aggression, which violates international law. As a result, Girkin calls for extensive mobilization measures in the population and the conversion of the economy to the state of war. His list also includes the terms “forced conscription” and “suspension of the rights of Russians”.

However, it seems unlikely that Putin will respond to these demands. Instead, the ISW assumes that he is initially waiting for the reactions of the population to these statements. According to the analysis, Girkin has also criticized the Kremlin’s lack of determination in dealing with Ukraine in the past and has repeatedly encountered granite.

According to official information, Girkin was reserve colonel of the Russian domestic secret service FSB until March 2013. Sources in the European Union suspect that he could also be a member of the military intelligence service GRU. Girkin also played a major role as a mouthpiece during Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The government in Kyiv recently called him a “Christian hater”.

For the time being, however, the former secret service agent remains one of the few prominent Russian reporters who openly criticize the Kremlin. Others, meanwhile, are attempting to frame a narrative that, while hinting at problems, has Putin’s back. Military blogger Yuri Kotyenok, for example, has claimed that Russia has promoted the “Syrianization” of the war in Ukraine by never setting specific timelines or targets for operations in Ukraine. What is meant by this is the fact that, according to the bloggers, Russia also acted calmly and without haste in the Syrian war.

According to the ISW analysis, this indicates that the nationalist currents in Russia have come to terms with the fact that Ukraine cannot be taken as quickly as originally thought. Rather, an attempt is now being made to knit a narrative in which the preparation and implementation of lengthy war operations is presented as the only viable alternative.

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