In this interview with Espreso TV, Russian journalist and politician Alexander Nevzorov explains that Russia is at an impasse in the Donbas but will never retreat because of the damage to its image. In his view, Russia’s only “proof” of great power status is its ability to create corpses in the Donbas and in Syria for the benefit of the Russian public. It no longer has anything else to contribute to the world — no technologies, or scientific discoveries, or art, or design. He also argues that Ukraine has exhibited astounding tactical mediocrity in its response to Russian aggression and needs to bring in talented people willing to use unconventional means.
The first is the Donbas terrorists themselves. This entire criminal mass of people who keep fighting among themselves, who have stolen everything they could from each other. All these stolen goods have changed owners ten times. Everything that had the slightest value in the Donbas has been stolen, plundered, ruined.
They don’t have any military strength as such for one simple reason: they simply no longer have the primary motivation, which used to exist, even if it is was ideologically false. Nonetheless, it still served as inspiration of sorts and integrated all the criminals of the “Russian World” to it. I say “criminals” because mercenary activity according to the laws of the Russian Federation carries a fairly heavy sentence and is one of the articles of the Criminal Code.
Well they have worn themselves out, but if they were simply worn out there would be nothing very frightening about that. You would simply come in and retake Donbas, but, as I understand it, Ukraine is worn out as well for one simple reason: this rapid exhaustion is not technical and not military, it is ideological. Ukraine could probably capture the Donbas, but blood would inevitably be shed because it is impossible for it not to be shed in this situation and, of course, it would be magnified hundredfold by the media, and by the media from all sides.
Therefore, by recovering its own territories, by reestablishing normal Ukrainian constitutional order in its territories, Ukraine would appear cannibalistic, bloodthirsty, murderous, dictatorial and so on. Is Ukraine ready for this role? I don’t think so, and this is why the Ukrainian army does not want to take any drastic steps and will not take them.
Russia has exhausted itself as well. Exhausted in all the meanings of this word at the same time. The dreary supplying of the Donbas with military, equipment, weapons, ammunition, material resources may continue, but we need to understand there is no longer any enthusiasm. Moscow has understood that it has gotten involved in a very dirty business.
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No one can leave Ukraine alone since that would be associated with such huge image costs that even Russian propaganda couldn’t handle it. In other words, they understand how to explain aggressions — it is a very simple ideological process — but they absolutely do not understand and do not have the techniques to explain withdrawal. In the palette of Russian propaganda, there is simply no explanation for other motives and other actions. It simply has not been taught.
Therefore, they cannot leave Ukraine alone, but they cannot move ahead either for several significant reasons: first of all, this entire workforce they have confirmed in the Donbas turned out to consist simply of criminals. Russia sees this; it sees that all the material resources it invests in the Donbas are disappearing into the pockets of all these Luhandonites (pejorative term for members of the Luhansk and Donetsk “republics” — Ed.) and other speculators as if into a bottomless pit. Nothing reaches the population; everything is stolen simply because it can be stolen.
But the issue is not even what has been stolen. The issue is that the personnel that could have carried out this beautiful imperial policy, as it is seen in Russia and the Kremlin, simply does not exist. There are no generals Yermolov, no generals Miloradovich (Russian 19th cen. imperial generals — Ed.), no governors-general who, with all their clanging medals, could bring order to the conquered lands again. They do not exist, but there are thieves. And these thieves are poorly managed, both by themselves and by the Kremlin. And the personnel that could have been sent there has been completely exhausted.