Putin Ally Bemoans War on Russia State TV: 'West Is Starting to Mock Us'

Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov, nicknamed "Putin's voice" for his stridently pro-Kremlin views, expressed frustration about Russia's military setbacks in Ukraine and claimed that "the whole West is starting to mock us."

Vladimir Putin is expected to formally annex four Ukrainian provinces into Russia later on Friday.

The Russian military has suffered a number of setbacks in recent weeks, losing a swath of territory around Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, earlier this month.

There are unconfirmed reports that Russian troops in Lyman, Donetsk Province, have been encircled by Ukrainian troops and cutoff from resupply.

Ukrainian soldier stands by badly damaged van
A Ukrainian serviceman checks a car damaged by a missile strike on a road near Zaporizhzhia on September 30, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The West is starting to "mock" Russia, according to state TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov. KATERYNA KLOCHKO/AFP/GETTY

On Thursday night, Solovyov bemoaned the state of the war on his Russia-1 show, Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.

"It's worrisome, truly worrisome. There hasn't been a single operation after Kharkiv that would alleviate this bitterness, nor have there been any returned or added territories. The whole West is starting to mock us," he said.

"I have a big request for our Army: please start to fight by the regulations, the way you can, the way you have been taught. Let's start announcing newly liberated places. What do you need for this? Three hundred thousand have been mobilized."

Solovyov made a veiled criticism of how Putin's partial military mobilization, announced earlier this month, is being conducted amid reports it's disproportionately targeting Russia's ethnic minorities.

Earlier this week, there were major protests in Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region of southern Russia, against the draft.

Solovyov said: "At the same time, let's not help our enemies while conducting the partial mobilization. For example, peoples of the far north, endangered populations, small ethnic groups, we should take that into account, make it proportionate with respect to the quantity of the mobilized people."

He went on to express general frustration with world politics, commenting: "Of course, we don't want war. This wasn't our choice, this was a choice of the West. I'm just amazed at what's happening in the world. I think to myself, what's happening is just not right. What's going on is not right. It's like the world had lost its way.

"There is no more wrong and right, the lies or the truth. Everything is in some kind of gray zone."

Speaking to Newsweek, Nikolai Petrov, a senior research fellow at London's Chatham House think tank specializing in Russia, said Solovyov's comments "don't mean anything new."

"He is a representative of propagandists who criticized the Russian army in a soft way for the whole month. The guy is considered to voice over grievances of a 'crazy war party,' which opposes a 'rational war party'.

"Putin's move with the mobilization and annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories is a move in favor of these crazy warmongers."

Russia held referendums between September 23 and 27 in the Ukrainian provinces of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, all of which it partially occupies, on joining the Russian federation.

'Sham' Referendums

The referendums, which Moscow claimed found overwhelming majorities for becoming part of Russia, were branded a "sham" by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Speaking to Newsweek, Katya Andrusz, from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said the referendums have no legal basis.

"Any elections or referenda on the territory of Ukraine can only be announced and conducted by that country's authorities in compliance with national legislation and international standards in order to have any legal force," she said.

Update 09/30/22 at 10:06 a.m. ET; This article was updated to include comments from Nikolai Petrov.