A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jun 7, 2022

Why Russian Sentiment Towards the War Is Changing

While still anecdotal, there are growing reports from those monitoring Russian-language communications, that both public and military attitudes towards the Ukraine invasion have become more negative. 

The change is the result of mass casualties which can no longer be dismissed, especially given the impact they are having on Russia's healthcare system. The economic effect of sanctions could be endured if Russians felt they were winning in any tangible sense, but that belief seems to be evaporating under the weight of reality. JL 

Dmitri Masinski reports in WarTranslated:

In the past week or so, I started sensing a change in the moods of comms I’m reading in Russian sources, most of which are very close to the frontline, many being separatist militias, others, regular Russian war correspondents and external observers with involvement in the conflict. Truths of various degrees of severity and pain are finding their way to the surface. There are still plenty of those strongly believing in the superiority of the Russian weapon and spirit. Yet the fairytales about the army “cracking NATO nuts” are not having the same effect. Most recent intercepted calls we’ve all heard and read (include) sentiments that are defeatist, even among Russian military personnel.

I wanted to express something that’s been brewing in my head the past couple of days and culminated today in a fairly specific thought which came to my mind as I was skimming my usual bookmarks in search for fresh translation material to share with you. In the past week or so, I started sensing a certain change in the moods of comms I’m reading in various Russian sources, most of which are very close to the frontline, many being separatist militias, others – regular Russian war correspondents, rest – external observes with certain experience or involvement in the conflict.

It is as if the Russians (those with a bit of a brain, not the TV-watching “Z”ombies) are beginning to realise what sort of a shithole they got themselves into now that so little has been achieved by one of the strongest armies in the world, and so much has already been lost, mainly in terms of human casualties. The Donbas, the very claimed core of this struggle, is not just not “liberated”, it in fact remains under constant “threat”, and the special operation arguably made things much worse than before 24 February – opposite of the effect it was meant to have.

Truths of various degrees of severity and pain are finding their way through the tracks the surface. They are getting louder, but unlike in the early days in February, March, perhaps even April and May, where one would listen to doom analyses of Girkin-Strelkov thinking the man has rats running a party in the attic, now the personal attacks on him increased which he acknowledges almost on a daily basis. And the man hasn’t really changed his rhetoric since then.


Truths about the unbelievable state of the Russian Armed Forces, about insane treatment of D/LPR mobilised men thrown in like meat to plug holes in the Russian defence/offence, about the lack of essential supplies from medicines to reconnaissance drones, about failures of the first stage of the operation, about stalling of the second stage, about unexpected resistance of Ukrainians… more and more of these truths emerge in regular comms and get picked up even by those who a month or two ago were vehemently proclaiming successes of the Russian offensive.

Here’s some Dorf, whose texts I’ve translated a few times, titles his post from today (5 June) – “Unhappy thoughts”:

“Reports are dreary, same for personal contacts. Everything froze in some kind of limbo, and it is absolutely unclear where will it go from here. Not fun. Some are looking for “zrada” (Ukr.=”treason”), others are looking for “peremoga” (Ukr.=”victory), others want socialism, others want to scoop it out of themselves… And Donbas suffers in silence when the missiles land, there is no time for “geonanopolitics”. Although they also whisper… about different things. It is hard for people to believe that on the 102nd day this is happening. It is even more difficult to live with an understanding that it is for a long time.”

War correspondents and bloggers more and more start attacking each other in their telegram exchanges once one of them decides to take the responsibility of saying things how they are, which by the way (the exchanges) are seen by hundreds and thousands if not millions of people, mostly Russians. Some are really off the hook. Just today when I posted the translation of the text by some “Murz” once again slamming the inhumane treatment of mobilised L/DPR men, I mentioned briefly the continuous pounces at him from his fellow “Z-bras”. He was verbally attacked by a number of very significant Russian telegram channels, including “Starshe Edd’y“, “Voenkor Kotyonok Z” – to the point where threats of physical violence are not uncommon anymore.

Just days ago, Igor Girkin-Strelkov in another of his long livestreams brings up the topic he believes is important for the Russian civilians – “What to do and how to prepare for a long-term ‘Special Military Operation’?”, hinting at a potential transfer of hostilities to the territory of the Russian Federation:

At the very least, learn how to provide medical assistance to yourself and your neighbours, your loved ones. This will save a lot of lives if you end up in an extreme situation, since 3/4ths of the wounded die not because the wound was mortal, but because they didn’t know how to treat themselves and those around them didn’t know either. People often can’t provide the most basic assistance with wounds and in the end those receiving the assistance lose arms and legs, not because they are wounded, but because the tourniquets were not loosened…

That’s quite a change, though we can’t say Girkin didn’t warn us (them). There are many other examples like this, but there’s no point bringing them up. I’m just sharing my feeling.

Certainly there are still plenty of those strongly believing in the superiority of the Russian weapon and spirit, like the infamous impenetrable nazi “Sladkov+”, yet the fairytales of the Russian high command about their army “cracking NATO nuts” are not having the same effect as they did earlier in the war. The same conclusions can be drawn from some of the most recent intercepted calls we’ve all heard and read, transcripts provided by yours truly. Some of the sentiments are really, really defeatist, even among the staff Russian military personnel.

The “stages of grief” graph inevitably comes to my mind though I’m struggling to put down exactly where the Russians are right now. Something tells me they are still in “pre-denial” and far worse is yet to come. We shall see, but I think I can feel the tremor of the first shocks of an earthquake shaking the ground under the feet of invaders and their informational “army”


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