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ISW: Kremlin may be demanding silence over military failures in Ukraine

by Abbey Fenbert August 3, 2023 7:29 AM 2 min read
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on Aug. 2, 2023. (Photo by Alexander Kazakov/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
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Top Moscow officials may be directing bloggers and other outlets to stay silent over Russian military problems, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Aug. 2 report.

The ISW pointed to disputes among pro-war Russian bloggers over coverage of setbacks in Russian-occupied Crimea, including the posting of images reporting to show the results of Ukrainian strikes in Sevastopol and on the Chonhar Bridge.

According to the ISW, "coverage of events in Crimea has created substantial tension in the Russian information space," with some bloggers accusing others of spreading panic while most avoid mentioning the attacks altogether.

The relative silence over the attacks in Crimea suggests that the Kremlin may be pressuring sites not to discuss them, the ISW said.

"Russian authorities, including the Crimean occupation administration, have a vested interest in restricting the dissemination of information about the strikes...due to concerns that this information will cause panic in the population," the ISW writes.

However, the ISW noted that Russian sites have been vocal in their response to Ukrainian drone strikes on Moscow, with some directly criticizing Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. One hypothesis is that Russian authorities are less concerned about local officials like Sobyanin absorbing blame.

Attention to the strikes against Russian-occupied Crimea, in contrast, highlight the failures of Valery Gerasimov, Russia's General Staff Chief. This could fuel "negative perceptions of Gerasimov’s competence" and subject Russia's top military leaders to scrutiny.

Ukraine war latest: More explosions reported in occupied Crimea
Key developments on Aug. 1: * Explosion reported near Russian naval base in occupied Crimea * Russian attack on Kherson hospital kills 1, injures 5 * UN condemns strikes on Moscow * UK Defense Ministry: Russian units ‘struggling with battle fatigue,’ ammo shortages A drone attack was reported…

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