Ex-Putin advisor compares Kherson retreat in Ukraine to the collapse of the Soviet Union, warning of ‘really big’ consequences

Ex-Putin advisor compares Kherson retreat in Ukraine to the collapse of the Soviet Union, warning of ‘really big’ consequences

John Haltiwanger Nov 10, 2022, 7:50 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany during World War II on May 9, 2018, in Moscow. Mikhail Klimentyev/Getty Images

  • A former Putin advisor likened Russia’s retreat from Kherson to the collapse of the USSR.
  • Sergei Markov, the ex-advisor, said there will be “really big” consequences for this “huge defeat.”
  • Other pro-Kremlin voices also expressed dismay over the announced pullback.

A former advisor to President Vladimir Putin compared the retreat of Russia’s forces from Kherson to the collapse of the Soviet Union as the Russian military’s mounting failures in the Ukraine war place the Kremlin in an increasingly precarious position.

“The surrender of Kherson is the largest geopolitical defeat of Russia since the collapse of the USSR,” Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst and ex-advisor to Putin, said on Telegram.

“The political consequences of this huge defeat will be really big,” Markov added.

Putin once referred to the disintegration of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”

Other pro-Kremlin voices have also expressed dismay over the announced pullback.

“The Russian information space predictably reacted to the announcement of the withdrawal with varying degrees of ire and concern,” an assessment from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said. “Russian sources also emphasized that this is a major defeat for Russian forces because they are losing territory that Russia annexed and claims as its own.”

But ISW also noted that prominent voices in the Russian military blogger space also portrayed the decision as a necessary one to preserve the safety of Russia’s troops.

Russia’s humiliating pullback from Kherson comes amid sustained pressure from Ukrainian forces, who have made gradual progress regaining territory as part of a major counteroffensive launched in recent months. They’ve pushed hard to retake Kherson.

Kherson was the first major city and the only regional capital captured by Russia since it launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February. It’s located in one of the four regions Putin illegally annexed in late September.

The retreat from Kherson is yet another reminder that Russia’s forces do not fully occupy or control the Ukrainian regions Putin now claims as part of Russian territory. The withdrawal from the city also undermines the Kremlin’s propaganda and the narrative they’ve presented to the Russian people that the war is going well.

Putin was not present for a televised announcement of the withdrawal on Wednesday featuring his defense minister and Russia’s top commander in Ukraine, perhaps as an effort to distance himself from the situation.

Ukrainian officials have expressed skepticism over the Kherson withdrawal, with some suggesting it’s a trap, but US Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that “we’re seeing the beginnings” of the Russian withdrawal from Kherson.

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