Russia is hoping a circus sideshow can boost the morale of beleaguered conscripts fighting the nation’s unprovoked war with Ukraine.
Kremlin officials announced a “front-line CREATIVE bridge” of singers and performers on Telegram Wednesday as forces ramped up attacks on civilian infrastructure across Ukraine — aiming to leave residents cold and in the dark as winter approached.
“In their hands — not machine guns, but microphones!,” warring officials irreverently wrote while announcing the entertainment, according to Google Translate.
The efforts to raise morale were “unlikely to substantially alleviate concerns” of “very high casualty rates, poor leadership, pay problems, lack of equipment and ammunition and lack of clarity about the war’s objective,” according to the UK Ministry of Defense.
The entertainment lineup of “opera singers, actors and circus performers” was “strongly intertwined with the Soviet-era concept of ideological political education,” British officials noted Sunday.
Russia’s move to improve spirits on the front line as it tried to reclaim the former Soviet territory-turned NATO and European Union candidate came as it began to lose the propaganda battle at home.
Support for the war had recently fallen to 30% across Russia, according to both Kremlin and independent polls, as economic sanctions crippled the country and word of soaring death tolls crept into the national discussion.
President Vladimir Putin canceled his annual year-end press conference for the first time in a decade last week amid speculation he was either sick or had run out of answers for the flailing invasion.
Tatiana Yashina, 62, the mother of jailed opposition leader Ilya Yashin, said the tide of support for Putin had turned after a veteran Kremlin reporter confronted Putin about the nine year sentence in a viral video last week.
“Shaky Putin… lied that he did not know my son, then he lied that he did not know anything about the sentence,” Yashina told The Daily Beast.
“Putin is falling apart,” she reportedly said. “He is clearly lying right in front of the cameras— with no confidence in his voice.”
Vera Aleksandrovna, 57, a lawyer from Saint Petersburg, told the outlet that “Russia, just like any other nation, wants to live a stable life without feeling ashamed of our Moscow leadership.”
“Before the war Putin guaranteed us a stable life but now he tells us that life in Russia will be good only in 10 years,” he said. “I liked Putin before the war, my son was an IT tech, we liked the IT opportunities in Russia; but now all the brain and talent is escaping the country, my son is gone too and I cannot afford to wait for 10 more years for a good life.”
Half of Russia’s recent 300,000 conscripts are expected to be deployed in February 2023 — when Ukraine officials fear the invaders will once again try to take over the capital city of Kyiv. Russia’s first attempt was blocked by a surprisingly agile Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“They may not be that well equipped, but they still present a problem for us,” Ukraine General Valery Zaluzhny told the Economist Thursday about the forced recruits.
“We estimate that they have a reserve of 1.2 million to 1.5 million people… The Russians are preparing some 200,000 fresh troops. I have no doubt they will have another go at Kyiv,” the country’s top military commander said.
The prediction came as Russia moved to extend its conscription terms from one year to two over the next year, according to a video statement from Russian Lt-Col Mikhail Fotin translated by The Daily Mail.
The military had launched some 54 rocket, mortar and tank fire attacks on the center of Kherson Saturday, killing three people and injuring six, according to a regional Ukraine official.
In the northern Belgorod region, one person was killed and eight were wounded Sunday in shelling attacks, according to Ukraine officials.
On Friday, a toddler was among four people killed in a blitz on Kryvyi Rih’s energy infrastructure as attacks on Nikopol, Marhanets and Chervonohryhorivka across the river from Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continued, officials said.
Some three dozen missiles launched at Kyiv were intercepted by air defenses on Friday, Two-thirds of the capital had regained electricity and water services a day later, and the subway was once again running after serving as a shelter, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
A senior US general estimated last month that more than 100,000 Russians had been killed so far during the 10-month invasion, but also said there were likely a similar amount of Ukraine causalities.
With Post wires
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