The successful Ukrainian offensive in the Kharkiv region actually forced Russia to openly acknowledge that its forces had suffered a defeat for the first time since launching its 2022 invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The Institute for the Study of War observed that Russia framed its retreat from Kyiv as a strategic decision to focus on the “liberation” of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. The withdrawal of Russian troops from Snake Island was described as a “gesture of goodwill.”
And Russia’s Ministry of Defense initially tried to claim that troops were being pulled out of the Kharkiv region to regroup and redeploy in the Donetsk region to carry out “the declared goals of the special military operation for the liberation of Donbas,” the official TASS news agency reported on Sept. 10.
But as the ISW noted:
This false narrative faced quick and loud criticism online. The Kremlin’s acknowledgment of the defeat is part of an effort to mitigate and deflect criticism for such a devastating failure away from Russian President Vladimir Putin and onto the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the uniformed military command.
Putin’s TV propagandists then started to spin a new line to deflect criticism from the Ministry of Defense and military commanders. It wasn’t the Ukrainian military that was forcing Russian forces to retreat, but NATO forces, including African-American soldiers.
So then we got this example of Russian propaganda provided by Julia Davis of The Daily Beast who monitors Russian state TV.
Apparently, the African-American in Ukraine’s international legion who strikes such fear in that manly Russian army touted by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is none other than former MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance, a 61-year-old U.S. Navy veteran. Nance is shown multiple times in this Russian state TV propaganda segment.
The segment begins with state TV host Olga Skarbeeva claiming that “foreign mercenaries are the backbone of Zelenskyy’s army,” including professional soldiers from Academi (formerly Blackwater) who supposedly took down a Russian flag in Kupyansk.
She just got the ball rolling. Oleg Matveychev, a member of the Russian parliament, said, Americans are “the ones doing the fighting … This war is not against Ukraine.”
He then drew an absurd analogy. He imagined some street team scoring a goal against Real Madrid, the European football powerhouse, That would be “shameful to be outmatched by street kids … how could the coach let this happen?”
(So in his mind the Russian army are champions like Real Madrid, the Ukrainian army is dismissively considered as a team of street kids. As for the Real Madrid coach, could it be Vladimir Putin?)
Well not to worry? Matveychev has an explanation for what’s happening.
“We’re not fighting against some street team,” he said. “There are no Ukrainians left in some cities near Kharkiv. There are the British, some Negroes speaking English, commanding and reporting in the English language to some English commanders. NATO units are fighting there with NATO weapons along with Academi mercenaries. All of Europe’s resources are behind them.”
(Of course, no mention of Russian mercenaries in the Wagner Group recruited right out of prison yards to be cannon fodder.)
Igor Korotchenko, a military expert, then offered another bizarre analogy. He claimed that British, American and French mercenaries who are entering captured cities are going around mocking Russian babushkas watching as they tear down Russian flags. And he says these grandmas are likely going to face “punitive action.”
He then compares footage from the current war to videos from World War II of German troops entering captured Soviet towns and villages “exactly the same way.”
“They (the Germans) entered the territory of historical Russia. Ukraine is historical Russia. This is our land, this is our territory which we are liberating today,” he said.
(So Ukraine doesn’t actually exist in his deluded mind. But if anyone is acting like German troops during World War II, it’s Russian forces who have left behind mass graves in cities such as Izium recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces.)
Another military expert, Andrei Klintsevich, follows up by explaining: “Russia isn’t fighting against the Ukrainian army staffed with NATO. we fight against a NATO army staffed with Ukrainians. Not everywhere because some divisions are 100 percent staffed with mercenaries.”
(So the Ukrainian army is only imaginary.)
Other Putin propagandists stick to the party line that Russia isn’t fighting Ukraine, but NATO. But writer Nikolai Starikov goes completely off the rails when he claims there are entire divisions of British, Polish and U.S. troops who “are entering Russian cities that are located for now on the territory of Ukraine.”
(But there are supposedly actual divisions of NATO troops forcing the Russian army to retreat. And some people thought that President Joe Biden wasn’t doing enough to help Ukraine.)
And finally it was left to political scientist Stanislav Byshok to actually make fun of the efforts of the other pundits to make Russia’s defeat in Kharkiv seem less humiliating.
“If we believe NATO is fighting on the side of Ukraine represented by the African-American you’ve shown, perhaps it’s good news,” Byshok said. “Of course, we couldn’t retreat because some Ukrainians are advancing since Ukraine is smaller, weaker, etc. But if it was NATO, represented by the African-Americans you were showing in that segment, it’s OK to retreat from African-Americans. i’m just sweetening the pill “
That rilesd up the rest of the panel who started to shout about Byshok’s “sarcasm.”
So there you have it. If you want to know why Russian forces are retreating, it has nothing to do with the Ukrainian military. Russia is losing to Academi mercenaries, divisions of NATO troops and a bad-ass 61-year-old Black Navy vet and cable TV analyst.