No matter how bad things are with President Putin’s “special operation” in Ukraine, the sun always shines in Russia’s state media. There is talk of numerous heroic conquests on the Russian side and enormous losses on the Ukrainian side. But despite strict censorship, information about the actual course of the war keeps leaking out, confronting the Russian population with a completely different truth.

The military bloggers, or milbloggers for short, who report on what is happening on the battlefield on Telegram, some of whom are soldiers at the front themselves, and who also criticize military tactics, play a large part in this. In the face of the Kremlin’s “ridiculous” propaganda, they see themselves as “the only reasonable source of information,” at least that’s what mildblogger Vladlen Tatarskyj writes on Telegram. According to The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), their texts reach more than 100,000 people, and the Kremlin considers around 50 military bloggers to be extremely influential.

Putin has now also recognized its importance – and made it his own. According to the ISW, the Kremlin is including selected military bloggers in its information campaigns in order to regain control of the Russian information sphere. Among them: said Vladlen Tatarskyj, who is considered one of the most prominent bloggers.

For example, Tatarskyj, who is a soldier fighting in Donetsk Oblast, gave a 20-minute interview to Russian television channel First Channel on Monday, in which he spoke true to the line on mobilization and war support – issues that Putin and the Russian Defense Ministry have dealt with in the past identified as problematic. He described drafted men who had complained to their wives about the mobilization and the bad conditions at the front as weak. He also resented wives’ emotional appeals and called on them to stop complaining about their husbands’ problems.

The military blogger also accused Russian citizens who left the country in protest of the war of having no respect for Russian society and its interests. He downplayed the reports of poor conditions at the front, written about by numerous military bloggers, noting that they were solely the fault of local commanders.

The reason why military bloggers like Tatarskyj are cooperating with the Moscow government is simple. After all, the Kremlin offers them high positions in the power apparatus. For example, Putin appointed a military blogger, Valery Fadeev, to the Russian Human Rights Council. At a press conference, when asked by journalists whether prisoners were being forcibly recruited, he said in the Kremlin’s spirit: “There is not a single sign that anyone in the prisons is being forced to pick up a machine gun. They go voluntarily.”

Another military blogger, who was not named, had received a post in the state mobilization working group. On Telegram, in view of his first meeting, he expressed his pleasure at “exchanging ideas directly and on an equal footing with the Minister of Defense” Sergei Shoigu about the problems with mobilization.

As the “ISW” reports, Moscow has already lured seven prominent military bloggers for its propaganda purposes. As a result, the Kremlin is increasing bloggers’ self-censorship and infiltrating the scene with its narrative of the “special operation” – which, according to state propaganda, is going exactly according to plan.