Russia’s defence minister merely shrugged when asked whether his forces will win the war, in a sign of just how bad the country’s invasion of Ukraine is going.
Sergei Shoigu, who has overseen his troops’ startling losses and battlefield failures, didn’t exude confidence in the military’s abilities in an interview on Russian TV yesterday.
Appearing deflated, he comically raised his shoulders with his arms outstretched as he said ‘we have no other option’ when asked whether Russia will win the war.
It marked a stark shift from his language 18 months ago where he said ‘domination had to be won’.
Shoigu, who faced a torrent of angry criticism from the late Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin for his ‘incompetence’, said: ‘We survived the spring and summer campaigns.
‘[Russian troops] are defending what they need to defend.’
Shoigu, who has overseen his troops’ startling losses and battlefield failures, didn’t exude confidence in the military’s abilities to win the war in an interview on Russian TV yesterday
In a sign of just how bad Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is going, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu merely shrugged when asked whether his forces will win the war
Shoigu, who was appointed Russia’s defence minister in 2012 despite having no military background, has seen more than 270,000 of his troops be killed or wounded in the war according to Kyiv estimates.
He told a reporter on Russian TV yesterday: ‘We continue to knock out the equipment, knock out the personnel, all those who continue to fight for a month after the offensive.
‘The counteroffensive has been underway for months now, we have survived the spring and summer campaigns, and now the autumn campaign has come.
The crestfallen Shoigu added: ‘The troops are engaged in keeping active defence in the right and necessary directions. In some areas it is more difficult, in others it is easier, but I can say that the guys act confidently, the commanders act confidently and reliably, reliably defend what we need to defend today.
‘Naturally, these are the directions in which the Ukrainian Armed Forces are trying to break through, but the main task is to knock out, knock out the equipment.’
The reporter than asked Shoigu: ‘Will we win?’
Shoigu pauses before shrugging, his arms outstretched, and saying: ‘We have no other option’.
His despondent speech came on the same day that Vladimir Putin pleaded with Kim Jong Un to supply Russia with more ammunition and rockets.
Western officials say the move shows the Russian president’s ‘isolation and desperation’ as his troops continue to falter on the frontline.
Kyiv’s forces have successfully recaptured ground in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, according the country’s deputy defence minister.
Hanna Maliar said Ukrainian forces had achieved ‘stable success’ in their drive to recapture Bakhmut in recent days and had achieved some of their goals around Klishchivka, a village towards the south.
Further north, near the towns of Lyman and Kupiansk, the heavy fighting of recent weeks has eased, she said.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in its evening report that Ukrainian troops had beaten back ten Russian attacks near Maryinka in the past 24 hours. It said Russian forces were trying to regain lost positions northwest of Bakhmut.
A Ukrainian serviceman fires a 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops in the Donetsk region in Ukraine on Wednesday
In a sign that Putin has become unhappy with Shoigu and his flailing war efforts, the Russian warmonger gave the defence minister the cold shoulder during a visit to a hospital in Moscow for wounded soldiers in June.
Upon their arrival at the medical facility, Putin quickly walked around the group, awkwardly shaking hands – and in some cases bandaged stumps – with the medically discharged veterans.
As is typical of such visits, most of the soldiers could not look their leader in the eye and instead stared straight ahead, their bodies rigid with anxiety. None smiled, or seemed particularly pleased to meet their president.
Having completed his round of pleasantries, Putin returned to stand shoulder to shoulder with Shoigu who waited at the hospital’s entrance.
As the president approached, Shoigu leaned towards him and appeared to utter a few words, but was met with a wall of silence as Putin promptly turned and stood with his back to him.
Shoigu was appointed Russia’s defence minister in 2012 and has been one of Putin’s closest allies for the past decade.
The pair are known to have holidayed together regularly and are believed to have shared a close personal friendship outside of their respective roles.
But Shoigu has no military background, having trained as a civil engineer and held the position of emergency situations minister for years prior to his move to head up the Russian defence ministry.
In addition, Shoigu was never a part of Russia’s state security apparatus – experience held by many of Moscow’s political elites – and thus his competence as defence minister was questioned by many analysts even before Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border last February.
Since then, Shoigu is one of the few top ranking defence and military leaders that has somehow retained his position.
Putin has run through several army chiefs of staff, demoting or outright removing military chiefs he perceived as incompetent amid his troops startling losses and battlefield failures.
Shoigu has also faced a torrent of angry criticism from the late Wagner chief Prigozhin, who is believed to have been assassinated in a plane crash last month.
Prigozhin routinely hit out at the Russian army’s failure to support his mercenaries in the fight for Bakhmut and accused the Russian defence minister of withholding ammunition from his troops.
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