Russian TV pundits are asking Putin to end invasion of Ukraine

Defiant Russian pundits risked incurring strongman Vladimir Putin’s wrath during an appearance on a TV show where they voiced opposition to the invasion of Ukraine – which was described as “another Afghanistan, but even worse.”

Karen Shakhnazarov, a noted filmmaker, producer and screenwriter, said on the state-run show “The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev” that Russia should “stop our military action.”

“The war in Ukraine paints a frightening picture, it has a very oppressive influence on our society,” the 69-year-old Kremlin-controlled channel Rossiya 1 pundit said, according to The Daily Beast.

“Ukraine, whichever way you see it, is something with which Russia has thousands of human links. The suffering of one group of innocents does not compensate for the suffering of other innocent people, ”he said.

“I do not see the probability of denazification of such an enormous country,” Shakhnazarov continued in remarks that stood in stark contrast to Putin’s message about what he has called a “special military operation.”

Tanks are seen being destroyed on the outskirts of Brovary, Ukraine.
Tanks are seen being destroyed on the outskirts of Brovary, Ukraine.
AZOV HANDOUT
The body of a Russian soldier lying in the road in Sytniaky, Ukraine.
The body of a Russian soldier lying in the road in Sytniaky, Ukraine.
Anastasia Vlasova
A map shows the areas of Ukraine threatened by the Russian invasion.
A map shows the areas of Ukraine threatened by the Russian invasion.

“We would need to bring in 1.5 million soldiers to control all of it. At the same time, I do not see any political power that would consolidate Ukrainian society in a pro-Russian direction, ”he said.


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“The most important thing in this scenario is to stop our military action. Others will say that sanctions will remain. Yes, they will remain, but in my opinion, discontinuing the active phase of a military operation is very important, ”Shakhnazarov added.

His comments come amid the Kremlin’s harsh crackdown on news organizations both foreign and domestic whose journalists are based in Russia.

Vladimir Putin attends Security Council meeting via video conference in Moscow on Mar.  11.
Vladimir Putin attends Security Council meeting via video conference in Moscow on Mar. 11.
Mikhail Klimentyev
A destroyed tank sits on a street after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road north of Kyiv.
A destroyed tank sits on a street after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road north of Kyiv.
Felipe Dana
A woman walks past a board showing currency exchange rates of the Euro and the US dollar against the Russian ruble.
A woman walks past a board showing currency exchange rates of the euro and the US dollar against the Russian ruble.
MAXIM SHEMETOV

Last week, Maria Baronova, editor-in-chief of the state-run media outlet RT, stepped down after publicly criticizing the invasion, telling her followers on the encrypted Telegram messaging service: “Our granddads did not fight for this.”

On the show Thursday, Shakhnazarov also said that “public opinion within Russia is changing.”

“People are shocked by the masses of refugees, the humanitarian catastrophe, people start to imagine themselves in their place. It’s starting to affect them. To say that the Nazis are doing that is not quite convincing, strictly speaking, ”he said.

A view of a closed Prada shop in Moscow on Mar.  10.
A view of a closed Prada shop in Moscow on Mar. 10.
MAXIM SHIPENKOV
Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol.
Dead bodies are placed into a mass grave on the outskirts of Mariupol.
Evgeniy Maloletka
A view of a closed Gucci shop in Moscow on Mar.  10.
A view of a closed Gucci shop in Moscow on Mar. 10.
MAXIM SHIPENKOV

“On top of that, economic sanctions will start to affect them, and seriously. There will probably be scarcity. A lot of products we do not produce, even the simplest ones. There’ll be unemployment, ”he continued.

Another guest, Middle East expert Semyon Bagdasarov, agreed with Shakhnazarov’s grim assessment.

“We did not even feel the impact of the sanctions just yet… We need to be ready for total isolation. I’m not panicking, just calling things by their proper name, ”he said, prompting Kremlin loyalist Soloviev to snap,“ Gotcha. We should just lay down and die, ”The Daily Beast reported.

Katya, 14-years-old, is treated in a hospital after being shot while fleeing with her family from a village north of Kyiv.
Katya, 14-years-old, is treated in a hospital after being shot while fleeing with her family from a village north of Kyiv.
Felipe Dana
Customers queue to enter a Uniqlo store in Moscow.
Customers queue to enter a Uniqlo store in Moscow.
MAXIM SHEMETOV
The EU heads of state attend an informal meeting to address the Ukraine crisis.
The EU heads of state attend an informal meeting to address the Ukraine crisis.
IAN LANGSDON / POOL

But Bagdasarov continued the anti-Kremlin narrative.

“Let Ukrainians do this ‘denazification’ on their own. We can not do it for them… As for their neutrality, yes, we should squeeze it out of them, and that’s it. We do not need to stay there longer than necessary, ”he said.

“Do we need to get into another Afghanistan, but even worse?” he added, referring to the 10-year Soviet occupation that ended in 1989 and contributed to the fall of the USSR.

Guest Dmitry Abzalov, director of the Center for Strategic Communications, said that although energy prices will go up for most of the West, it will not do much to ease the pain for Russian citizens, according to the Daily Beast.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pauses as he speaks in Kyiv on Mar.  10.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pauses as he speaks in Kyiv on Mar. 10.
AP
A woman walks past a closed Chanel shop in Moscow.
A woman walks past a closed Chanel shop in Moscow.
A satellite image of resupply trucks and "probable multiple rocket launch deployment" in Berestianka, Ukraine.
A satellite image of resupply trucks and “probable multiple rocket launch deployment” in Berestianka, Ukraine.

“We’ll still be the ones taking the terminal hit – and an incomparable one, even though other countries will also suffer some losses. We’ll all be going to hell together – except for maybe China – but going to hell together with the French or Germans will not make our people feel any better, ”he said.

Abzalov argue that once the Kremlin ends its invasion, Western companies that temporarily paused their operations in Russia will quickly return.

“It’s about toxicity, not just sanctions… It will go away once the situation stabilizes,” he said on the show.

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