Russian invasion slammed on state TV as ex-colonel blasts failures

17 May 2022, 10:22 | Updated: 17 May 2022, 10:53

Russian defence columnist appears angry in rare candid moment on Russian TV

By Will Taylor

A Russian defence analyst has condemned how the invasion of Ukraine has panned out, admitting virtually the "whole world" is against it and warning Kyiv can mobilise a million troops.

Mikhail Khodaryonok, a retired colonel, told Russian state TV they should not take "information tranquillisers" and dismissed notions that the Ukrainian army is becoming demoralised.

Speaking with the show's host Olga Skabeyeva about suggestions some Ukrainian units were struggling for funding and arms, Mr Khodaryonok says: "The situation from the overall strategic position is that the Ukrainian armed forces are able to arm a million people.

"They're saying it themselves, that 'for us, there’s no difficulty in mobilising a million people'.

"The whole issue is to what extent they're able to supply this army of modern weapons and military hardware."

He says if Ukraine had no help, it would struggle to do that, but with foreign help they will be equipped in the "near future", massively expanding Kyiv's forces.

Mr Khodaryonok goes on to say the situation will "frankly, get worse".

Russia is thought to have lost thousands of soldiers and a raft of armoured vehicles
Russia is thought to have lost thousands of soldiers and a raft of armoured vehicles. Picture: Alamy

Ms Skabeyeva then puts it to him that the newly-called up recruits will not be as effective as the professional army.

But Mr Khodaryonok retorts that their use will be determined by the quality of their training, morale and their readiness to "shed blood for the homeland".

"A conscript army can be highly professional too," he explains.

Read more: Ukraine 'can win' war, says Nato chief as huge military exercise gets under way in Estonia

"A desire to protect one's homeland, in the sense that it exists in Ukraine, it really does exist there. They intend to fight to the last man."

When Ms Skabeyeva intervenes again to mock the idea that a "desire to die" could be branded "professionalism", Mr Khodaryonok says it is one of the most important components of an army's readiness.

Attention then turns to Finland's bid to join Nato, a clear geo-strategic failure for Vladimir Putin, who said his desire to stop any further eastward expansion of the military alliance – and roll it back westward – was one of the triggers behind his invasion of Ukraine.

Areas like Mariupol have been devastated in the invasion, despite Russia&squot;s description of it as a "liberation"
Areas like Mariupol have been devastated in the invasion, despite Russia's description of it as a "liberation". Picture: Alamy

Instead, it sent Helsinki into the arms of the west, fearful of its future security as a neighbour of Russia.

Vague threats about sending missiles to the Baltic region have emerged from Russia over Finland and Sweden's bid to join the alliance.

Speaking about the broader, global picture, Mr Khodaryonok says: "Don't engage in sabre-rattling with missiles in Finland's direction. It actually looks quite amusing.

"After all, the main deficiency of our military-political position is that, in a way, we are in full geopolitical isolation, and that, however much we would hate to admit this, virtually the entire world is against us.

Read more: Russia 'forced to deploy nukes on Europe's border' as Ukraine pushes invaders back

"It's that situation that we need to get out of."

Russian media coverage of the war has been heavily censored and sanitised, with the Putin regime refusing to call it a war, and instead use the term "special military operation".

It has been opaque about its casualties and brutally cracked down on dissent, forcing media outlets to close if they refused to comply with censorship and arresting protesters throughout the country's cities.

Read more: Russia writes chilling messages on bombs set for Mariupol after Eurovision plea for help

However, Russia's failures in the invasion have proved hard to spin at home for some Russians.

Its humiliating retreat from Kyiv, the sinking of the Black Sea Fleet flagship the Moskva and unexplained fires at key military-industrial targets throughout Russia have hampered attempts to spin the invasion as a success.

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