• Following continued battlefield setbacks for Russia over the last two weeks, increasingly diverse actors within the Russian system have joined voices in criticism of the Russian MoD leadership. Critics have included Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Wagner Group private military company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, state-approved TV presenters, pop stars, and an increasingly vocal community of ultra-nationalistic military bloggers.
  • Kadyrov and Prigozhin are likely being perceived as informal figure heads of a ‘pro-war’ bloc whose criticism hinges on arguments for greater state commitment and willingness to escalate. Both likely achieve some credibility based on the significant deployment of both Chechen and Wagner combat units on the ground.
  • The criticism remains focused at the military high command rather than senior political leadership, but it does represent a trend of public voicing of dissent against the Russian establishment which is being at least partly tolerated and which will likely be hard to reverse.
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