Russian President Vladimir Putin rushed into Ukraine, assuming that he would be greeted as a liberator. Instead, he was met with fierce opposition. The Russian soldiers fell quickly, unprepared to face off against any Ukrainians willing to fight back.
The Daily Beast reported Monday that as Russia was celebrating the end of World War II as part of their Victory Day, Putin's military leaders confessed their Army has been an embarrassment.
It isn't a surprise to Putin's foe Alexei Navalny, who said that the military's failures are about long-standing corruption that began at the top but trickled down to his military as well.
"He is the tsar of corruption,” said Navalny in an interview.
Writing for Politico, senior research fellow Polina Beliakova at the Tufts University Fletcher School explained that the poor performance came from corruption across the board.
"On the operational level, the corruption in defense procurement has also likely undermined logistics, manifesting in soldiers receiving inadequate equipment and supplies on the ground," she explained. "Poor logistics slows down the advancement of troops, undermines their morale and hinders military effectiveness."
She cited reports of military meals expiring in 2015. That goes directly back to "Yevgeny Prigozhin — the patron of PMC Wagner, the mercenary organization, and sponsor of the Internet Research Agency, which has been accused of meddling in the United States elections."
She went on to say that several years ago, "Prigozhin’s companies were accused by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny of forming a cartel and gaming the state’s bidding system for defense orders, receiving contracts for several hundred million dollars," so, if Prigozhin didn't have the money to replace the MREs for the Russian soldiers, it might confirm the corruption accusations from Navalny's group.
In his Victory Day speech, Putin talked about his troops in Ukraine fighting "to liberate their native land from the Nazi filth with confidence that, as in 1945, victory will be ours." His problem is that the claim isn't working on his people, especially after his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, quoted Adolf Hitler "had Jewish blood" and that "the most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews." Russia also bombed Ukraine's Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial.
"Russia was so unprepared for this turn of events, both militarily and economically, that even the most pro-Kremlin propagandists have been forced to acknowledge the grim reality of a pariah state fighting a war of aggression," wrote the Beast.
The state TV show "The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov" welcomed Putin-supporting military analyst Konstantin Sivkov who claimed their "current economic market system is unfit to meet the needs of our Armed Forces and of the entire country under these conditions." It wasn't the sanctions that caused the problems.
Beliakova cited a 2020 report from Transparency International’s Government Defence Integrity Index, which said Russia has a high corruption risk in the defense sector. Without any kind of civilian oversight, the increased secrecy around the defense industry led to sketchy deals thanks to the Ministry of Defense.
The pro-Putin military analyst ultimately admitted what was needed was a kind of “military socialism” and rules and regulations to redirect money to the military.
There were other problems that hadn't been part of the military training for any of the Russian soldiers. For example, they were told they were going to the border for a training mission. They had no idea they would be shooting Ukrainians. Many of them brought their cell phones and sent messages to their mothers. It became clear that those same smartphones were tracking their movements on Google Maps, so Ukrainians were easily tracking their movements, the Washington Post reported.
While Putin has a stranglehold on his media, he didn't count on Ukrainians filming and photographing everything that his military was doing and putting them on social media for the world to see. He might be able to control the Russian media, but the rest of the world is watching the brutality in real-time on Twitter and YouTube. To make matters worse, the Russian soldiers who are being captured are using social media to let their families know they're safe.
"There are also reports that Russian advances in Ukraine were slowed by lack of fuel — and this in a country rich with oil and gas," explainedBeliakova. "But ineffective control over fuel consumption in the Russian military actually long preceded the war in Ukraine and had historically created opportunities for embezzlement — that is why fuel is often called the Russian military’s 'second currency.' It is plausible that the long-standing tradition of corruption in fuel supply decreased the pace of Russian advancement in Ukraine."
State TV host Vladimir Solovyov also confessed that Russia couldn't compete with the supply of drones, which have been responsible for taking out tanks and other pieces of Russian equipment and soldiers.
“They tell us from the frontlines: ‘Give us drones!’ People are crowdfunding crazy amounts of money. They bought up everything that was available in stores. Why can’t that junk be mass-produced in Russia?” shouted Solovyov, according to the Beast.
The reality, however, is that the resources aren't there to do it.
State Duma member Semyon Bagdasarov said: “Everyone is ashamed to talk about this topic. Volunteers, like our mutual acquaintances... are buying it all and transporting it over there. It’s a crying shame!”
He went on to blame the West for humiliating the Kremlin, an admission that hasn't happened publicly from Putin's own allies. Bagdasarov said that the military should simply "purge" all of the "management officials."
A problem that the Russian soldiers are facing is that their military is very "top-down," according to a New York Times report. Many generals have been killed in the Ukraine war, and the theory is that it's all because of intelligence being given to Ukraine by the West.
The more likely reason, however, is that the command hierarchy in the Russian military mandates that all decisions must be made by the highest level. It requires the generals to be on the ground with the soldiers. With such a large casualty rate on the Russian side, any general on the front lines is going to be among the dead. Ukraine, by contrast, is completely decentralized.
The Daily Beast closed by citing the Russian "60 Minutes," which interviewed Colonel Mikhail Khodaryonok, who explained that even if Russia did a mass mobilization effort they couldn't fix the problem. The outdated Russian weapons just don't stack up to NATO.
“Let's imagine the drumroll, the sound of fanfare, and the mobilization is declared. How soon under this mobilization will we get the first fighter aviation regiment? We would get it by New Year's. We don't have the reserves, the pilots, or the planes, so the mobilization would be of little help,” Khodaryonok said. “If tonight, we order new ships to be built, how soon will we get the first one? In two years! That's the deal with mobilization. If we set a goal of forming a new tank division, when would it be ready? I would say in at least 90 days. And it wouldn't be equipped with modern weaponry because we don't have modern weapons and equipment in our reserves.”
Zelensky made it clear to Putin early Tuesday morning, "We will win."