Frustration with Ukraine war spills out on Russian state TV

Russia’s retreat from a key Ukrainian city over the weekend elicited outcry from an unlikely crowd – state-run media outlets that typically cast Moscow’s war in glowing terms.

A series of embarrassing military losses in recent weeks has presented a challenge for prominent hosts of Russian news and political talk shows struggling to find ways to paint Ukraine’s gains in a way that is still favorable to the Kremlin.

Frustration with the battlefield setbacks has long been expressed in social media blogs run by nationalist pundits and pro-Kremlin analysts, and the volume grew after Ukraine’s counteroffensive last month around Kharkiv in the northeast. But it is now spilling out on state TV broadcasts and in the pages of government-backed newspapers.

The less conciliatory tone from state-run media comes as President Vladimir Putin faces widespread Russian discontent about his partial mobilization of reservists and as government officials struggle to explain plans to annex Ukrainian regions at the same time they are being retaken by Kyiv’s forces.

“The Russian defeat in Kharkiv (region) and Lyman, combined with the Kremlin’s failure to conduct partial mobilization effectively and fairly are fundamentally changing the Russian information space,” Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a report.

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