The withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson is fuelling an ideological rift between pro-military figures and Russian President Vladimir Putin, undermining the confidence of his supporters. In its latest report, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) shared information about internal conflicts in the Kremlin, caused by defeats in the war in Ukraine.

Russian radical nationalists likely do not trust Putin anymore

Military analysts note that Putin is finding it increasingly difficult to reassure part of his electorate due to the inability of the Russian military to achieve its initially announced goals of overthrowing the Ukrainian government and seizing all of Ukraine.

Putin’s nationalist propagandists, such as state TV anchor Vladimir Solovyov, are increasingly demanding that the Kremlin and senior military commanders fully commit to their goals in Ukraine. Solovyov has even called for the full mobilization and dismissal of incompetent commanders following the Russians’ withdrawal from Kherson.

Putin likely ordered propagandists to suppress any criticism

As ISW notes, Putin needs to maintain support, and he likely ordered some of his propagandists to suppress any criticism of the Russian withdrawal from Kherson, as many state-run television news programs omitted or downplayed the impact of the retreat.

Growing doubts among Russian far-right politicians about Putin’s commitment to Russian ideology are reducing Putin’s appeal among Russian radical nationalists.

The Institute also points out that Russian officials approve the forced removal of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia. In particular, the invaders made a statement about the planned forced transfer of more than 40,000 children from Kherson region to Russia. At the same time, the Russian invaders themselves recognize the system of care for Ukrainian children as inadequate.

According to ISW, the Russian military leadership is unsuccessfully trying to unite the mobilized with different types and levels of qualifications and equipment.