Unusual event: Duma deputy wants to summon Shoigu

Unusual occurrence
Duma deputy wants to summon Shoigu

Criticism of one’s own army is a criminal offense in Russia. But the recent setbacks in Kharkiv are so threatening that the search for a culprit is ongoing. A Duma deputy suggests summoning Defense Minister Shoigu.

According to a media report, the Russian parliament is considering questioning Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The Council of the State Duma will discuss the matter on Monday, the Russian newspaper Kommersant quotes Sergey Mironov, head of the small Kremlin-affiliated party Fair Russia. It is uncharacteristic of the State Duma to subpoena a defense minister.

After the Russian army lost large parts of the Kharkiv region of Ukraine to the Ukrainian counter-offensive, the armed forces in Russia have recently been openly criticized. Experts, analysts, bloggers and officials have recently covered the army’s actions in TV programs and online networks with a wave of scathing criticism that was previously unimaginable.

Kadyrov attacks generals head-on

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, for example, made particularly harsh allegations against the Russian army. In a voice message to his 2.4 million Telegram followers, the hardliner denounced the “mistakes” of Russian generals. If nothing changes, “I will be forced to contact the Ministry of Defense and the country’s leadership to explain the situation on the ground,” he said.

The Kremlin tried to stop this wave. Those who think differently must “adhere to the laws” that punish people who “discredit” the army, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned with a threatening undertone. “It’s a very, very fine line, you have to be very careful here.” Criticism of the army has been treated as a criminal offense in Russia since the attack on Ukraine.

“Regrouping instead of withdrawal”

The Defense Ministry in Moscow presented the withdrawal of Russian troops as a strategic “regrouping” of its troops. The ministry initially denied that the Russian armed forces had suffered a debacle. But even Vladimir Solovyov, one of the most important Kremlin propagandists, recently admitted: “The situation is difficult and serious.”

Apparently, some Russian soldiers share the doubts about the defense minister. According to the Kyiv Post, Ukrainians found an ancient telephone in the liberated towns in the Kharkov region, on which the soldiers had written “Shoigu”.

Above all, what is new is that the criticism is now also coming from nationalist groups that have previously vehemently supported the military operation. The most recent setbacks in Ukraine are not the first for the Russian army since it began operations in February. As early as April, they had to withdraw from the area around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

But the recent setbacks suffered after the military operation lasted more than six months are particularly painful for nationalist circles. There are only two possible explanations for these bankruptcies, the conservative commentator Yegor Kholmogorov judges: either “we were betrayed” – or “our army is not fit for combat”.

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