It is not a secret that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not going Russia’s way, at least in the Western world. The majority of Russians seem to be behind a new iron curtain, as many were shocked to find out that their invasion of Ukraine had gone horribly wrong when retired Russian Colonel Mikhail Khodaryonok went on live Russian television and admitted that the invasion was not going to favor Russia in any way.
During a Russian TV talk show “60 Minutes” on the Rossiya Network, Khodaryonok said that “the situation for us will clearly get worse,” adding that people should not take “informational sedatives” regarding the events that have transpired in Ukraine.
“You need to study each case from the general strategic position and ideally considering the prospects for the nearest future,” Khodaryonok said. “But first, I should say you shouldn’t take informational sedatives.”
“Sometimes you hear reports about a moral psychological breakdown in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, that their mood is allegedly close to a crisis. To put it mildly, this is not true,” he added.
Extraordinary exchange on Russian state TV’s top talk show about Ukraine. Military analyst & retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok tells anchor Olga Skabeyeva “the situation for us will clearly get worse…we’re in total geopolitical isolation…the situation is not normal.” pic.twitter.com/ExMwVDszsk
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) May 16, 2022
This is the first time a Russian officer who had served in their military has gone out in public, essentially saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine and propaganda machine are wrong. He did not say they were spewing lies to the public, but he did directly say that reports of the Ukrainians having a “crisis” were untrue, and he wouldn’t be wrong either. These statements reportedly left the panel attending the show quite speechless.
“Of course, there are separate instances, prisoners, certain units, but these are individual cases. But you need to look at the big picture,” Khodaryonok said. “And the big picture is as follows,” he tried explaining but got interrupted by the television presenter.
“But it’s the individual cases that decide the big picture, and if several units have announced that they lack financing and weapons, that’s also important and shouldn’t be discounted,” the presenter retorted.
“Of course. But the situation from the general strategic position is that the Ukrainian army can arm a million people. They say themselves it’s not a problem for them to mobilize a million people,” Khodaryonok countered. “The question is whether they can provide this army with modern weapons and special equipment.”
This is not a problem for the Ukrainian Armed Forces as weapons from the West have been pouring in, notably with the US contributing a large majority of the weapons, providing some $3.7 billion worth of military and economic assistance since February 24th. Furthermore, the Biden Administration had recently signed the Lend-Lease Act last week, a revival of the World War II-era policy that allows for a quicker turnover of equipment. The law was passed with bipartisan support, as expected as the US has been particularly supportive of Ukraine.
“But the Lend-Lease [Act] will kick in soon, and the opposition of one single [US] senator will be overcome quickly. Considering that European assistance will start working in full, we need to treat these million Ukrainian soldiers as reality in the nearest future – we need to consider this in our strategic calculations.”
The TV presenter, Olga Skabeyeva, seemingly trying to turn the situation into a positive for Russia, asked Khodaryonok about how many “professional” soldiers were in the Ukrainian forces as “mobilized soldiers might not be very good.”
“The point is that the level of professionalism of any army is determined not by the recruiting of contract soldiers, but the level of training of the troops and its morale and readiness to spill blood for the motherland,” he explained. “A conscript army can be highly professional.”
He highlighted that these Ukrainians desired to defend their motherland and that it would be difficult to deter them.
Khodaryonok Accurately Predicts Russian Invasion of Ukraine
In fact, Khodaryonok was one of the few people who cautioned Russia against invading Ukraine before the invasion. In a column that he wrote for a Russian news outlet, he directly refuted voices in the Russian elite that invading Ukraine would be a walk in the park (clearly, that’s not what happened). According to him, to believe that nobody would defend Ukraine is “a complete ignorance of the military-political situation and the moods of the broad masses of the people” and that the hatred of Russia in Ukraine is “frankly underestimated.”
“Events in southeastern Ukraine in 2014 seem to have taught no one anything. Then they also expected that the entire left-bank Ukraine in a single rush and in a matter of seconds would turn to Novorossiya,” he said.
“In short, the liberation campaign in 2022 on the model and likeness of 1939 will not work. In this case, the words of the classic of Soviet literature Arkady Gaidar are more true than ever: ‘It is clear that we will now have not an easy battle, but an uphill battle.'”
First of all, who is Mikhaïl Khodarenok? Born in 1954, the retired Colonel has worked in the Main Operational Directorate of the #Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff & is the editor of an influential military journal. He’s also a military correspondent for https://t.co/gR3E3bQTqf pic.twitter.com/CRfjKvlGlX
— Guillaume Ptak (@guillaume_ptak) May 17, 2022
In what is an eerily accurate prediction of the current situation in Ukraine, he also said that nobody would welcome the Russian army “with bread, salt, and flowers” in Ukraine. This is the lie that had been allegedly told to conscripts to convince them to go to war.
He also dispelled the lie that Russia could disable all surveillance, communication systems, artillery, and tank formations of Ukraine and referred to these claims as only “political workers” expressions.
The colonel cautioned Russia with its invasion, saying they should “never despise your enemy, do not consider him stupider and weaker than you.”
In closing the article, he says:
“In general, there will be no Ukrainian blitzkrieg. The statements of some experts such as “The Russian army will defeat most of the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 30-40 minutes”, “Russia is able to defeat Ukraine in 10 minutes in the event of a full-scale war”, “Russia will defeat Ukraine in eight minutes” have no serious grounds.”
“The armed conflict with Ukraine at present does not fundamentally meet the national interests of Russia. Therefore, some overexcited Russian experts are best forgotten about their hat-throwing fantasies. And in order to prevent further reputational losses, never remember again.”
He repeatedly stated and emphasized the importance of having high morale in a war, indirectly comparing Ukraine’s morale and will to fight against Russia’s morale to invade Ukraine, which had been documented to be extremely low. In fact, SOFREP recently reported about Russian troops refusing to obey orders in the Donbas region. Prior to that, there were also reports of Russian troops totally abandoning their vehicles and running straight back to Russia or Belarus.
“The most important thing is to remain realistic from a political and military standpoint. If you don’t, then sooner or later reality will hit you so hard you won’t know what hit you,” the colonel said.
“We are in full geopolitical isolation, and that however much we would hate to admit this, virtually the entire world is against us.”
In Russia today, criticism of the government and the military will get you arrested and put in prison up to 15 years. We imagine the remarks by Col Khodaryonok on the conduct of the war would be more even damning if not for the ear of being scooped up by the FSB.