Russian state TV analyst Zakhar Prilepin recently said Moscow is “clearly” not ready to launch new offensives against Ukraine as the “special military operation” continues to falter.
Prilepin’s remarks come nearly nine months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, citing widely debunked needs to “denazify” the Eastern European country. However, Ukraine met Russia with a stronger-than-expected defense effort, blunting Moscow’s ability to achieve substantial military gains.
The faltering military invasion is adding political pressure to Putin domestically, as some prominent Russians raise concerns about how the war has been managed since its February 24 launch.
Putin, amid this mounting pressure, has ordered strikes against Ukraine’s infrastructure in recent weeks, but Ukraine continues to win back formerly occupied land, most recently taking control of the key city of Kherson, which acts as gateway to Crimea, the region Russia annexed from the country in 2014.
Prilepin, a former member of the state Duma whose birth name is Yevgeny Prilepin, admitted during an appearance on Russian state TV, which throughout the conflict has served as a cheerleader for Putin’s war, that it is “strategically important” for Russia to “drag out” negotiations to allow them to build up their military before launching a larger offensive.
His remarks were translated and posted to Twitter on Sunday by journalist Julia Davis, the founder of the Russian Media Monitor.
“At this moment, Russia doesn’t want to, or maybe won’t, wage a total war until victory. A total, catastrophic, direct as a steamroller kind of war that is supposed to end in the proverbial denazification and demilitarization and the signing of a capitulation,” he said.
He added that recent missile strikes against Ukraine won’t win the war for Russia, but that the military is not currently prepared for offensive actions.
“We clearly aren’t ready to launch offensive actions. We need to double the size of our forces to advance,” he said. “For our citizens who are so happy about these strikes, those patriots whom I respect, should understand: you don’t win a. war by these strikes. We won’t defeat Kyiv in this manner.”
Prilepin continued to say he believes Russia needs a military victory, in addition to strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure, to force Ukraine to end the war. He said missile strikes have an “exclusively narrow purpose” to only force Ukraine into negotiations.
Pressure Builds as Putin’s War Falters
Prilepin’s admission comes as Putin continues facing pressure due to the faltering war.
“There is an understanding that we lost the real war,” members of Putin’s inner circle said, according to the report. “People begin to think about how to live on, what place they would like to take in the future, what bet to make, what to play. [On the one hand] there will be revanchist sentiments. On the other hand, there will be a request for normalization and stabilization.”
Meanwhile, ex-Kremlin adviser Sergei Markov on Saturday praised Putin’s potential challenger Yevgeny Prigozhin as the “voice of the people.” Prigozhin has criticized Russian oligarchs and military leaders for the invasion, with some analysts saying he could pose a threat to Putin’s power.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.