Russian state TV guest urges Putin to negotiate and avoid more humiliating retreats

'Russia will hold out' in Ukraine says Russian TV panellist

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There is growing concern that Ukrainian forces could push Russia’s military out of the country altogether, according to an extraordinary exchange on Russian state TV this week. One guest on the programme urged President Vladimir Putin to negotiate so that Russia can keep hold of the territory he has won so far. He pointed to Russia’s humiliating retreat from Kyiv and other sities as proof that Russia was struggling to gain ground. 

However, a nationalist blogger also on the programme erupted in outrage at the suggestion of negotiation and instead urged the complete destruction of Ukraine.

The guest who urged negotiation said: “We can wage war indefinitely. Russia will endure. If they will also endure is up to debate.

“But if we aren’t going to wage war indefinitely, then we would need to agree on some reasonable compromise.”

The host of the programme, who wore a ‘Z’ on his t-shirt – a nationalist symbol of Russia’s invasion – hit back that compromise would “be a win for Ukraine”.

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The guest followed up: “So, how many options do we have?

“It’s just, this withdrawal from Kyiv, it’s a defining point, right? So, we came in. And, honestly, we thought they would surrender.

“They didn’t surrender. Okay, then we go back. We leave not only that region, but Sumy and Kharkiv regions too, where they started to fire on our native territory.”

Sergey Grigorov, the nationalist blogger, responded that Russia never withdrew from Kharkiv.

The guest disagrees, pointing out a live map of the battlefield on the TV programme that shows the Russian withdrawal from the region.

This prompted Mr Griogorov to lash out: “On the way here, I’m talking with people from Kharkiv oblast, and they say to me: ‘People are begging Russia not to surrender any more territory!’

“It’s the first thing they ask of us. Army’s begging, people are begging. It’s a decisive victory.”

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He continued: “It’s what Blinken doesn’t want. He’s always blabbing about how ‘Russia doesn’t want independence and sovereignty for Ukraine’.

“Yes! That’s what we want, that’s what are trying to accomplish — to make that terrorist state be no more!

“So it would bother us no more! To cure the people they infected with their satanic, totalitarian ideology! And to punish the war criminals. To punish the war criminals you have to take the territory and catch them!

“And if they flee abroad, pursue them there, like terrorists they are. Like Israel did in their time.”

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Patrick Revell, a reporter from ABC, tweeted the exchange, adding: “Remarkable clip of Russian state TV propaganda show where one guest gently brings up Russia’s retreat from Kyiv and suggests it may need to negotiate to keep territory it holds now.

“Everyone looks uneasy. One guest goes hysterical. Host: ‘But that would be victory for Ukraine’.”

The clip was roundly ridiculed online with many mocking the claim that people in Kharkiv are begging Russians to stay.

The Ukrainian military said on Saturday it had recaptured four settlements to the north and east of the eastern city of Kharkiv – Upper Roganka, Ruska Lozova, Slobidske and Prelesne.

The Institute for War Studies says this has been part of a series of successful counter-attacks out of the city in recent days.

The IWS added: “Russian forces appear increasingly unlikely to achieve any major advances in eastern Ukraine, and Ukrainian forces may be able to conduct wider counter-attacks in the coming days.”

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