The Russian-appointed deputy leader of occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine said that “gaps” on the battlefield in the region are down to “incompetent commanders.”
“There is no need to somehow cast a shadow over the entire Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation because of some — I do not say traitors — but incompetent commanders who did not bother, and were not accountable, for the processes and gaps that exist today,” he said in a four-minute video posted to the Telegram messaging app on Thursday.
“Indeed, many say that the Minister of Defense [Sergei Shoigu], who allowed this situation to happen, could, as an officer, shoot himself. But, you know, the word officer is an unfamiliar word for many,” he added.
Stremousov contrasted what he called a “small number” of “corrupt marauders and other miscellaneous riffraff” in Russia’s Defense Ministry with “heroes” on the frontline.
“All those who gave their lives, who stand to the end, are heroes,” he said. “I know them personally, because I am at the forefront.”
What Kyiv is saying: Ukraine claimed on Thursday that it had liberated more than 400 square kilometers (155 square miles) in the Kherson region in an unspecified timeframe.
“Our successes are quite convincing. We do not name the directions, but more than 400 square kilometers of the Kherson region have already been liberated from the occupiers,” said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Operational Command South.
Stremousov denied this, saying in the caption to his video that Russian troops were “holding back the onslaught” and Ukraine’s advances “had been stopped.”
The Kherson region in southern Ukraine is partially occupied by Russia but the Ukrainian Armed Forces have made significant gains in the past week. On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the communities of Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka had been liberated, suggesting that Ukrainian forces are making progress through the largely rural hinterland of Kherson.