Whole battalions of Russians have been annihilated on the Ukrainian frontline, and soldiers are left behind by their commanders, the Russian independent media writes. Independent journalists also reveal how propaganda officers are trained to reflect one of the biggest failures of Putin’s war – the retreat from Kherson
The Russian independent media writes that a third of Russian workers have left the country after the mobilization decree was passed. Journalists also note that fake news targeting the West stemming from Putin’s speech at the Valdai club could be true only if they pointed to Putin’s own actions.
Journalists have discovered the secret subdivision in the Russian army that is directing the missile attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Moreover, the independent media noticed that the myths underlying Putin’s regime have unraveled one after the other due to the war in Ukraine.
Serbia has been, for years, Russia’s closest ally in the Balkans. For Moscow, the relationship is a means to project an image of power and international relevance. Belgrade, on the other hand, plays the pro-Russian card to show that it has an alternative to a West that bruised its ego during the Kosovo war, but also for some pragmatic reasons, such as Russia’s support in the UN Security Council and its role as an energy provider. Belgrade’s real interests lie, however, with the EU, and the war in Ukraine may bring about a change – albeit a slow one – in its relationship with Russia.
Education today faces major challenges arising from a lack of good resources and the strong emotions that the war in Ukraine brings. We spoke with three history educators from Poland and Ukraine about the ways in which the war is affecting their work, both personally and professionally.
Russian citizens are conscripted from their workplace, from universities and even during protests, whereas propagandists who urge people to fight and bragged on national television about wanting to fight in the war are now trying to doge military service, the Russian independent media writes after Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization.
In their zeal to carry out orders, Russian army officers sent their men to their deaths, writes the independent Russian press, which carries testimonies of some soldiers who fought in Ukraine. Another topic is the Russians in the diaspora who, allied with the extreme right in the West, organize demonstrations in support of the war in Ukraine.
Two new investigations conducted by Russian independent journalists provide an insight into the life of luxury of the Russian leadership. Putin’s yacht, Scheherazade, cost close to 600 million EUR, a sum raised by inner-circle oligarchs, journalists say. A different investigation shows how the family of Andrey Turchak, the secretary of United Russia party and vice-president of the Federation Council, made a fortune by privatizing and destroying the most important manufacturing compound in Russia’s entire defense industry.
An “independent expert” dispatched by the IAEA at the Zaporizhzhya NPP is actually a primatologist with long-standing political ties in Russia, the Russian independent media writes. Veridica has selected a number of articles describing how Russian children are taught to love, fight and die for the motherland and about Ukrainian fighters at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.
Russian experts and the independent media have analyzed the state of the Russian Federation’s army, which is sustaining heavy losses in the war launched against Ukraine. They also write about the obsolete Soviet weapons used by the Russians, which produce casualties among both the civilian population and among the attackers themselves. They also discuss how the war has changed the media landscape in Russia.
Sharing a 1000-kilometer long border with Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova has been affected by the war started by Russia on February 24 too. Veridica has spoken with several analysts in Chisinau to learn more about the main problems facing the Republic of Moldova, a state that is simultaneously facing an economic and an energy crisis, while at the same time trying to deal with a significant number of Ukrainian refugees.
Before the war started, the Russian army was already in a tight spot, as a serviceman fighting in Ukraine revealed. The topic is discussed at length by the Russian independent media, which also writes about “Putin’s chef”, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is also in charge of the Wagner mercenary outfit, recruiting criminals, including murders, from Russian prisons. Another issue discussed by the Russian independent media is that of Western combat equipment used by the Russian army, considering the Russian military industry lacks the necessary technology.
By joining NATO, Finland and Sweden would make the Alliance the main power in the Baltic Sea. Together, the two countries boast efficient and highly trained air, sea and ground forces, a good defense industry, and quick response capabilities. They occupy strategic position. And they would greatly consolidate the security of NATO’s most vulnerable member states – the Baltic countries.
Urban legends about Ukrainians and the war in Ukraine end up being used as war propaganda by Moscow, the Russian independent media writes, also proving why the Amnesty International report criticizing Ukraine manipulates and misinforms public opinion and how the Putin regime is using nuclear weapons as a threat.
Natalia Gavriliță’s Cabinet, supported by the majority made up of Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) MPs, has in the last year constantly navigated a number of unprecedented crises, a record-high inflation of some 32%, but it also grabbed the biggest victory since 1991 - obtaining EU candidate status.
The Russian independent press reports that Russian doctors, teachers, civil servants and builders are being sent to the occupied territories of Ukraine to prepare “the union with Russia”. Meanwhile, Western sanctions are hitting the Russian economy and the well-being of the population, experts say. President Putin, however, continues to blackmail Europe with cold in the winter and famine.
EU and NATO member Bulgaria, once Moscow’s closest satellite, has been moving away for years, albeit at a slow pace, from Russia’s pull. This process has been accelerated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the Kremlin can still count on an array of friendly politicians, spies, and a disinformation and propaganda network to further its interests in Sofia.
Every day, Russian citizens learn from news segments about the victories reported by the Russian army on the Ukrainian front. Even when troops are retreating or conquering a few small villages despite sustaining heavy losses, the Ministry of Defense spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, invokes resounding achievements. A PROEKT.MEDIA investigation reveals that many such achievements are in fact mathematical and geographical falsehoods.
In theory, Romania is not overly reliant on Russia in economic terms. Trade relations are limited, the number of Russian companies operating on the Romanian market is relatively small, and Romanian imports of oil and gas from Russia are incomparably lower compared to those of other EU countries. Over the years, however, Russian oligarchs, most of whom are connected to the Kremlin, have taken possession of huge chunks of certain sectors of the Romanian economy. Adding to these economic levers are political ones too – there are Romanians who, consciously or not, are playing into Moscow’s hands. It’s a strategy Russia has been applying ever since the 1990s in most ex-communist states.
The Russian independent media writes about volunteers with no military training whom Moscow sends to die in Ukraine, as well as about the role of mercenary groups fighting for the Russians. The Kremlin is mindful not just about battlefront developments, but also about the way it is selling the war to the next generation of young Russians: the new school curricula includes the new Putinist ideology and the official rhetoric about the war in Donbas.
Russia owns the most important strategic gas and electricity supply facilities in the Republic of Moldova and uses them skillfully to put not only economic but also political pressure on Chisinau’s key decisions. The scheme devised by Moscow supports the separatist regime in Tiraspol and offers the Kremlin an instrument to pressure Chisinau for the debts accumulated by Transnistria.
The chess rivalry between Russia and Ukraine existed before the invasion of February 2022. It also existed before the first invasion of Russia in February 2014. It existed, one might say, before the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991. But it has never been harsher than this year. The world of chess has once again become, as it was during the Cold War, a battleground for image, influence and power.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought the world closer to a nuclear disaster, as Russian troops occupied Ukrainian nuclear power plants – sometimes by fighting their way in and shooting at the plants – and Russian missiles flew dangerously low above them. Yet, the International Atomic Energy Agency had a rather moderate response to these risks and it continued to work closely with the Russians, much to the dismay of the Ukrainians.
The war in Ukraine has brought to the fore the poor state of the Moldovan army, which remains underequipped after being neglected by the authorities in the last three decades. Yet the commonplace view in Chișinău right now is that the army should at least fend off an aggression coming from Transnistria. Russia and its mouthpieces, on the other hand, continue to absurdly claim that Moldova modernizing its army would be tantamount to breaching its neutrality.
Vladimir Putin and the Russian elite denounce the West and the lack of patriotism of the Russians who choose to live there, but even the children of the elite - including Putin's daughter - have chosen the comfort of living in the Western states, according to the Russian independent media. Another topic is that of the Western politicians who chose Russia and the generosity with which it rewarded them.
The war in Ukraine has sparked a great of deal of concern in the Republic of Moldova, where the people have seen just how vulnerable the country is in case of a Russian attack. Neglected for years due to underfunding, incompetence or for the sake of “neutrality”, the army seems underprepared to efficiently defend the country. The West is trying to lend a helping hand and has promised to deliver military equipment.
Turkey’s threats to veto Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession were interpreted as an attempt to secure certain concessions from the West in the context of economic difficulties at home. The previous policies of the Erdoğan administration – and of post-Ottoman Turkey in general – suggest that Ankara is actually pushing for more: it wants to impose its own agenda and perception over its allies.
The Baltic states are probably among the NATO countries most exposed to a possible Russian attack and were among the first to express concern about the aggression of the Putin regime. Their NATO membership offers them protection, but experts feel that the Alliance needs to consolidate its position in the region.
Despite measures taken by Moscow to secure a monopoly on information regarding the war in Ukraine, Russian independent journalists continue to cover this topic. Veridica has selected a number of press articles describing what is happening in Ukrainian oblasts under Russian control: how the Russian armed forces are abusing the locals, how men have started disappearing, how the new “military-civilian” administration is installed and who the key figures appointed as leaders of the newly conquered territories are.
Outside Russia, Moscow’s representatives and supporters tried to mark Victory Day in ex-Soviet and ex-communist countries, but in most cases, their actions were overshadowed by protest actions against Russia’s acts of aggression or demonstrations of solidarity with Ukraine. Veridica’s contributors in ex-Soviet and ex-communist states have closely followed May 9 celebrations.
Tens of thousands of people have left Russia in the last three months due to oppression, condemning the aggression in Ukraine. Many have stayed however, continuing to oppose the establishment and to take part in anti-war actions. A large number of journalists, activists and human rights militants have no intention of letting up, despite the repressive legislation and the risk of facing criminal punishments. Veridica has selected a number of topics from the top independent sources in Russia.
May 9 was a much anticipated event in Chișinău: a recent law forbids the public display of symbols associated with the Russian army and the invasion of Ukraine – the ribbon of Saint George and the letters Z and V. Previously, pro-Russians had announced they would ignore the law. Fears were running high that public unrest might break out. That wasn’t the case, and the demonstration actually resembled a display of communist nostalgia rather than an act of solidarity with Russia.