Russian state media has been increasingly torn over how to address the war in Ukraine after the overwhelming defeat in Kharkiv forced propagandists to address the reality of the situation.
Given the silence and deflection from official Russian sources, like the Ministry of Defence, Russia’s most ardent propagandists have been divided over how to proceed with their “special operation.”
Some have called for Russia to return to the negotiation table, seeking the best possible scenario to at least keep some semblance of Crimea or the Donbas. They have called for a withdrawal of forces from certain areas deemed untenable, seeking to strengthen Russia’s position in the short term to achieve a peaceful settlement while internally acknowledging Russia’s sheer defeat. They have sought to portray Ukraine as a worthy adversary, acknowledging Ukrainian nationality and identity. Instead, they hope to secure recognition and rights for Russians in Ukraine they feel are oppressed.
Others have painted a far less diplomatic approach, opting for the immediate use of nuclear weapons on targets like Kyiv and Lviv, major ‘decision-making’ population centers, to make an example for Ukraine. They hold that the Ukrainian identity needs to be wiped out completely, securing a complete territorial annexation of eastern Ukraine or even all of Ukraine. Ardent supporters of this fullscale mobilization and nuclear rhetoric speak of an existential battle against NATO and the West, citing comments by top leaders in Europe and North America that seem to indicate a commitment to ensuring the end of the Russian Federation’s ability ever to present a threat to the alliance again.