Ukraine latest: Azovstal fighters leave steelworks as Ukraine ends Mariupol defence


It was an extraordinary piece
of television.

60 Minutes is the flagship talk show on Russian state TV: studio discussion promoting the
Kremlin line in everything, including President Putin’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. The Kremlin still maintains that the Russian
offensive is going according to plan.

But studio guest Mikhail
Khodarenok, a military analyst and retired colonel, painted a very different

He warned that “the situation
[for Russia] will clearly get worse” as Ukraine receives additional military
assistance from the West and that “the Ukrainian army can arm a million

Referring to Ukrainian
soldiers, he noted that “the desire to defend their motherland very much exists”.

“Ultimate victory on the battlefield is determined by the high morale of troops
who are spilling blood for the ideas they are ready to fight for.”

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“The biggest problem with [Russia’s] military and political situation”, he continued, “is that we are in total political isolation and the whole world is against us, even if we don’t want to admit it. We need to resolve this situation.”

“The situation cannot be considered normal when against us is a coalition of 42 countries and when our resources, military-political and military-technical, are limited.”

The other guests in the studio were silent; even the host, Olga Skabeyeva, normally fierce and vocal in her defence of the Kremlin, appeared unusually subdued.

It’s rare to hear such realistic analysis on Russian TV. The Kremlin has gone out its way to control the informational landscape here: shutting down independent Russian news sources, and ensuring that television – the principal tool in Russia for shaping public opinion – is on message.

So, what happened on 60 Minutes? Was this a spontaneous and unexpected wake-up call on Ukraine that slipped through the net? Was it pre-planned to prepare Russians for negative news on the “special military operation”?

It’s too early to say. Stay tuned to Russian TV for further signals.