With the fall of Liman to the Ukrainian forces on October 1, 2022 and the desperate attempt of its garrison to avoid total encirclement resulting in the loss of men and materiel, the dam appeared to break on criticism of the Russian army. Hitherto, criticism of the army had been the exclusive preserve of the pro-war military bloggers, but now they were joined by some top officials.
Chechnya's boss, Ramzan Kadyrov blamed Colonel General Alexander Lapin for the debacle on his Telegram channel.
"I was always saying: there is nothing better than the articulated truth, however bitter and hurtful it may be, but the truth is better. That's the only way to advance. That's why I can't keep quiet about what happened in Krasnyi Liman [Russian name for Liman].
"Colonel General Alexander Lapin, commander of the Central Military District, was in charge of the defense of this area. The same Lapin, who was awarded with a Hero of Russia order for the capture of the city of Lysychansk, although de facto (sic!) he was nowhere near there. In addition, Lapin was commanding the troops of the Western Military District.
"The Colonel General has deployed mobilized LPR fighters and other units along all of the Liman direction lines, but has not provided them with the necessary communication, interaction and ammunition supply. Two weeks ago, Major General of the “Akhmat” regiment, my dear BROTHER Apty Alaudinov, reported to me personally that our fighters could become easy targets [for the Ukrainian Armed Forces].
"In turn, I informed Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, of the threat. But the general assured me that he has no doubts in Lapin's commanding talent and believes that the prospect of our troops’ retreat from Krasnyi Liman and its environs was impossible.
"A week later, Lapin relocates his headquarters to the city of Starobelsk, a hundred kilometers away from his subordinates, while he himself hides in Luhansk. How is it possible to manage detachments promptly when they are 150 kilometers away? Due to the lack of basic military logistics today, we had to abandon several settlements and a large territory.
"It’s not the fact that Lapin is a mediocrity that hurts the most, it’s the fact that he’s being covered up by his superiors at the General Staff. If it were up to me, I would’ve demoted Lapin to a private, stripped him of his decorations, and sent him to the front line to redeem his shame with a machine gun.
"Nepotism in the army won’t bring any good results. We need people of firm character brave, principled, who care about their soldiers, who fight as beasts for their soldiers, who know, as Army commanders, that a subordinate cannot be left without help and support. There is no place for nepotism in the army, especially in troubled times."
Alexander Lapin (Source: Fedpress.ru)
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the Wagner PMC voiced his support for Kadyrov's comments and wanted to dispatch the failed generals to the front to fight "barefooted with machine guns".
On the one hand, Russia's military bloggers were satisfied that they were no longer alone in criticizing the military:
" Well, an information revolt against the Russian Ministry of Defense, or rather its leadership and commanders in the field, has begun in the Russian information space.
"Ramzan Kadyrov, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Lubyanka-controlled [FSB] TV channels, representatives of security services of all kinds (from the Rosgvardia to the Armed Forces) as well as [the State] Duma deputies with a background of service in the Russian Ministry of Defense are on the same side of the barricades Everyone is angry with one thing: the cumulative effect of many years of 'successful' reports on part of the commanders in the field. Now it has turned into yet another failure at the front.
"There have been similar attempts to wake up Russian society before, but now these attempts are initiated from above. Time will tell, whether this will do any good."
The dissatisfaction over the military failures coincided with disgruntlement over the obvious shortcoming of the mobilization. The MIG Telegram channel had a solution:
"Our stance is simple: our conscripted brothers (and even sisters), who are thousands (sic!) of kilometers away from the front, shouldn’t sleep by fires, go to the toilet in the bushes, and eat uncooked food for several days straight. There is no way this question can be characterized as unsolvable.
"And if there is absolutely no way to solve it, then let’s make the military, or civilian officials responsible for all this sleep next to the mobilized people by the fire. After that the situation will, certainly, change for the better, and in a matter of hours."
It was not sensible to turn Lapin into a scapegoat, because he had inherited an untenable situation in Kharkhiv:
"We fear that instead of sound personnel decisions, a couple of 'scapegoats' will be found, upon whom all the cumulative 'sins' of current events will be pinned and, in addition to their own, the guilt of others.
"We aren’t defending anyone, but Colonel General Lapin can serve now only as a ‘valve’ designed to release the pressure of buildup popular anger, falling victim to media squabbles that won’t lead to a solution to the systemic problems that have ‘corroded’ the entire command structure of the army. I would like to believe that things are different. But it’s a hard task.
"We should note that it’s illogical to blame the commander of the Central Military District for the failures of the Western Military District, because the results of the mistakes made were already apparent in the first days of hostilities...
The Military Review (Topwar.ru) website posted a very scathing article by one its regular analysts, artillery expert Roman Skomorokhov, who enumerated Russia's military failures since the beginning of the invasion, and what was worse the apathetic response to these failures. Until a thorough reform of the Russian Army had been performed, it was useless to send the newly mobilized forces to the slaughter. Likewise, pending such a reform it was unrealistic to expect victory in the current fighting.
Skomorokhov's article follows below:
Roman Skomorokhov (Source Fotokto.ru)
"We celebrated quite well? We in Moscow - the annexation of the territories of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions (I consider the LPR and DPR to have been with us since 2014, and we are with them), and in Kyiv – [they also were celebrating] the liberation of Yampol and other settlements.
"Yes, now dozens of 'experts will pop up, who will say that 'Liman has served its task', 'There was no point' and stuff like that. And the press service of the Ministry of Regroupings [a jibe at the defense ministry that whitewashes retreats as regroupings] will start relating how much Ukrainian equipment and manpower was destroyed, sketching unconfirmed numbers for the hundredth time in their reports.
"And the Ukrainian Internet is already littered with videos of Russian soldiers lying [dead] who will never rise again and captured equipment, which after a while will go into battle, but already against us.
"And for the first time since the Great Patriotic War, a Russian city has been surrendered to the enemy. It was admitted as a part [of Russia] together with the DPR [Donetsk Peoples Republic] yesterday. And today they surrendered it, because yesterday there were talks that another unnoticed offensive by Ukrainian troops endangered Russian units in Krasny Liman.
"Everyone was celebrating, and from there came the completely unhappy news that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were capturing one checkpoint after another. By evening, many breathed a sigh of relief when the information came out that the reserves had arrived and battles for Limansk were ongoing.
"And that's all. They left [Liman].
"One can only congratulate the Russian General Staff on another defeat. Only now we must add to it the abandonment of a Russian city.
"And they surrendered, unlike 80 years ago to the well trained German army that captured all of Europe, but to the very “fennel” [the word for fennel in Russian Ukro sounds like Ukraine] that many went to mow. This fennel that is now tearing down Russian flags and posting on the Internet how they are used as rags at the entrance to the premises of the Armed Forces of Ukraine's valiant soldiers.
"This is also to the credit of our decorated and heroic generals. And this must be considered when the time once again arrives to reward them for their successful service to Russia. Ranks, stars, medals ...
"For the second time in two days (Moscow, for whom do your bells ring?) I ask almost into the void: when will the liquidation of the mess that was bred in the deep end of the high command begin? When, finally, will the generals of the Arbat Military District [a swank neighborhood of Moscow] appointed by on the basis of kinship and acquaintances, be replaced the military colonels who fought in Chechnya and Georgia?
"When will they stop blatantly lying to our faces? You don't believe me? Then go look at defense ministry reports. Every single day there you can encounter the number "200". Every day, somewhere, the valiant Russian army, fighting in the seventh dimension, exterminates 200 soldiers and officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The types of troops are changing, places are changing, the figure “up to 200” remains unchanged.
"By the way, a very large number of top Telegram channels have stopped publishing this unscientific fantasy. That is an indicator, you know.
"Here is the latest creative example of [Defense Ministry spokesman Igor] Konashenkov's department:
“'Despite the losses suffered, the enemy, enjoying a significant superiority in forces and means brought up reserves and continued the offensive in this direction. In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, the Allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Lyman to more advantageous lines.'
"It seems to be normal, right? Despite the fact that simply huge (according to the releases of the RF Ministry of Defense publicity service) amounts of manpower and equipment are destroyed every day, the Armed Forces of Ukraine enjoying a significant superiority.
"And what was reported about a month ago, after fleeing from the Kharkov region?
"'In order to achieve the stated goals of the special military operation to liberate Donbass, a decision was made to regroup the Russian troops stationed in the Balakleya and Izyum regions to build up efforts in the Donetsk direction...
"It's time to ask questions of those who worked out these goals, and those who organized their implementation. How long can you, after all, play the same dumb tune for imbeciles? We are people, after all, we are citizens, we are the ones who will go there tomorrow, as mobilized [soldiers].
"We have the right. We saw everything that happened, we were silent. Not all, but almost all...It is time to remind ourselves first of all of:
"- The entry of forces [at the start of the invasion] in nine directions, many kilometers of columns, which the enemy hit. Useless losses of our paratroopers from the 45th division.
"They were silent. Now is not the time to look for the culprits. We hope the conclusions are made. There are no fools in the General Staff. We'll figure it out after we win.
"- Withdrawal of troops from the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions. With heavy losses, if not in people, then in equipment. Leaving inhabitants, who they told that 'Russia has come forever [to Ukraine]' to be slaughtered.
"They were silent. Now is not the time to look for the culprits. We hope the conclusions being made. There are no fools in the General Staff.
- Left Snake Island. They lost the missile cruiser Moskva, the large landing ship Saratov and numerous Black Sea Fleet aviation aircraft at the airfield in Novofedorovka.
"We are silent. Now is not the time to look for the guilty, the main culpable commander of the fleet has been removed, we will deal with the rest after the victory. There are no fools in the General Staff.
"- Shameful "regrouping" from the Kharkov region. Abandoned Kupyansk, Balakleya and a bunch of other settlements. With the loss of people, loss of equipment. With the abandonment of thousands of residents to the mercy of the Ukrainian Security Service. The elite court divisions fled best of all, generously endowing the Armed Forces of Ukraine with T-90M tanks and Msta-S self-propelled guns.
"We are silent. Now is not the time to look for the culprits. We hope the conclusions are made. There are no fools in the General Staff.
"- Leaving the Russian city of Krasny Liman with the loss of people and equipment. New footage with prisoners, dead, captured equipment, the tearing and trampling of Russian flags.
"Now is not the time to look for the culprits. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have sustained terrible losses, everything is strewn with corpses there. High-precision missile strikes caused terrible damage to 100 buses on the Dnieper, shot down the 100th Su-25 of the Ukrainian Air Force.
"Is there not a single person in the RF Ministry of Defense who knows how to use both the Internet and a calculator? Well, if you sum up ALL Su-25s in Europe, including Ukraine, then there can be no more than 60 of them.
"We are silent. We are balancing on the brink, since no one has canceled the article [in the criminal code imposing penalties] on denigration [of the army]...
"And so, we waited. There was a man [Ramzan Kadyrov] who once again did not keep silent and said what he thinks about this. I will cite [him] together with many other again:
[Skomorokhov cites Kadyrov's criticism cited above in this reportI
"Except for the passage about [using] nuclear weapons - just a bow and the fullest respect to Ramzan Akhmatovich [for his analysis]. Lieutenant General of the Russian Guard R. A. Kadyrov, of course, had every right to express his opinion, having relevant information on the situation that was even based on the reports of his fellow [Chechen] countrymen who are fighting today in the Northern Military District.
"Let's Not Rush
"The way that, following Kadyrov and [Yevgeny] Prigozhin's [criticism], bloggers rushed to denounce General Lapin, says a lot, but does not do credit to anyone who now repeats after Kadyrov and Prigozhin. We are capable of seeing today what we did not notice point-blank yesterday.
"The fact that Lapin is a very "strange" Hero of Russia - well, he is not the first after all. We have lots of such heroic generals who received the coveted stars for no reason. Here the question is also addressed to the one who compiled the reports on Lapin and brought them to Putin for signature.
"In Syria, Lapin was replaced by [Sergey] Surovikin, who straightened out the situation after Lapin, here now someone will also replace him...
"The Ministry of Defense is silent. As always. Whether Lapin is guilty or not, we will most likely never know. After all, everything is in perfect order with the Ministry of Defense: 200 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are exterminated every day, buses are on fire with high precision, Su-25s are shot down efficiently.
"You should not pick on and blame everything on Lapin. He is the face of our current army. The army, which is very sick, is seriously feverish. It is not only Lapin who is to blame for what is happening today in the new Russian territories.
"Many are to blame, here it is necessary to assess the situation as a whole.
Problems are everywhere: in organization, management, communication, interaction, the system of personnel promotion (especially above the brigade level), provision, and so on to exhaustion.
"The Army Is In A Very Deep Crisis
"And, unfortunately, this is only now becoming clear. And no nuclear weapons can remedy the situation, in general, this is complete nonsense - actually solving an internal conflict with the help of tactical nuclear charges, this does not fit into any frame.
"There, in the Kremlin, they must still understand: if we want to preserve (for a start) and protect the choice of new subjects of the Federation, we simply urgently need not a paper reform, but a real reform of the army. When, instead of parquet heroic generals, combat colonels will arrive and begin to turn the tide in our favor.
"The Russian army received a deafening slap in the face. But in no case should the mobilized be thrown to the slaughter for the sake of resounding heroic reports. A clear rethinking of the extent to which the existing generals are at all capable of changing the situation is necessary. Yes, most likely, the chances of success are very small.
"A lot needs to be changed. But the change should be effected very calmly and thoughtfully, without lynching the designated culprits. But not waiting, as some are calling, for victory. It may not exist in these circumstances."