In Russia, ‘reports from the front have almost disappeared’

The war is vanishing from headlines in Russia, writes Russian journalist, writing under the pseudonym Aleksey Maltsev, but this will only make it harder to hide.

I have noticed that reports from the front lines are gradually disappearing from the Russian “infofield”. Whereas until recently everyone was publishing something, from the political media to lifestyle publications, now it is only possible to read about what is happening on the front lines on the websites of several independent media outlets.

The war has almost "disappeared" from the regional media: today they only talk about car accidents on the roads, or opening of playgrounds, or governors' visits to remote villages. There is also less of it in Telegram channels: those who were writing about politics before 24 February gradually returned to the debate on domestic issues.

Meanwhile, the main problem we have is still the same. And if we talk about it less, it will not be solved. The geography of the war is expanding. It already reaches beyond the borders of Russia and Ukraine. Yesterday, Tiraspol, the capital of the unrecognised break-away Moldovan region of Transdniestria, was shelled with tank grenade launchers. The Ukrainian side blamed Russia for the incident, while the Moldovan capital Chisinau said that the incident was “a pretext for aggravating the security situation in Transnistria.” Russia has kept silent for the time being.

It is obvious that it will take a long investigation to establish the reasons for what happened, but it is also obvious that the main reason is the ongoing war on the Moldovan border. Had there been no “special operation”, there would have been no shelling of Tiraspol.

For the third month now, I have been responding to the attacks of all the supporters of war who say that Ukrainian civilians are suffering because of the shelling by their own army (this is how Russian propaganda tries to explain the destruction of cities and the deaths of thousands of people): “You,” I say. “You can think whatever you want. But if we hadn’t started the war, none of this would have happened.”

I am very much reminded of what one Mariupol refugee woman said to my intern: “We may have been harassed for our language. But we were all alive”. Having decided (according to one of the many official versions) to “protect” the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine from “oppression, Russia's leadership started a war that is now destroying the very Russian-speaking population.

So why are the reports from the fronts disappearing? I can only judge as a layman - I am not a military expert at all. There seem to be several factors here:

– The war has really dragged on after all. To pass off the capture of small cities (with the accompanying colossal destruction and casualties) as successes is becoming more and more difficult. At first we were told that the war would be over in a few days, then “victory” was “predicted” by 9 May. But no “victory” (as understood by supporters of the war) is even close to being seen. The goals have not been achieved. And against this background, the threat of nuclear weapons is increasing more and more. Do even the most ardent supporters of war agree to “victory” at such a price?

– Moreover, the front is also moving in the other direction. For the third day in a row there has been shelling of Russian villages located in the border regions. On the night of 25 April, there were explosions at an oil depot and a military camp in Bryansk. Before that, Ukrainian helicopters shelled an oil depot in Belgorod. And yet “practically all” of the Ukrainian aviation, according to the Russian military, “was destroyed” at the beginning of March. How can this be when the war is going well?

– Our “allies” from the "DNR" (the Donetsk People's Republic) are already detaining international observers from the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Against this background, it is getting harder and harder to accuse Ukraine of trying to hide anything happening on the front. Who wants to hide? It seems to be the one who is taking independent observers captive…

Russians are trying to be plunged into their usual ignorance. Passivity. Here the president is already talking about internal problems, speaking mainly about “successfully” “overcoming” them: “stabilizing the ruble exchange rate,” “avoiding the deficit,” and “saving jobs”. Only, we remember that stories about “stable economic growth” earlier in peacetime, for some reason turned into an increase in the retirement age of our population. And we know that in the factories that have been shut down, workers “keep their jobs,” but do not receive wages. It is frightening to think how the screen behind which they are now trying to hide the war, will turn out.