In a video - in Russian - the five Ukrainian border guards, dressed in full gear and armed with assault rifles, appeal to the Russian people: "After seven months of war, you should have understood that we are not giving up a single meter of our country." This is followed by the statement that "60,000 of your fellow citizens are already successfully fertilizing the Ukrainian black earth" - an indication of the number of members of the invading army who died in Ukraine according to Kiev figures.

The Russian men were left with only two options to avoid being sent home in a body bag: "Avoid mobilization or surrender."

Nicholas Zimmerman

Editor in Politics.

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As much as the martial message spread by the state border protection authority on Sunday is an element of psychological warfare, uncertainty is spreading in Russia after the Ukrainian liberation of the strategically important city of Lyman, even without such clips.

Actually, the annexation of four Ukrainian territories on Friday was supposed to rally the Russian nation behind Vladimir Putin and the war of aggression, still called "special operations".

But already at the weekend, protagonists in public life indulged in finger pointing.

"Does the President know what happened?"

The blogger Anastasiya Kaschevarova, for example, who once advised the Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, stood out.

She took on Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valeriy Gerasimov via her Telegram channel.

"Does the President know what happened?

Who is reporting to him?” Kashevarova opened her tirades disguised as questions.

Where are the promised tanks, stolen or sold?

In a post on Sunday, she was also critical of the "partial mobilization" announced last week by President Putin and his defense minister.

The blogger asked where the reservists who were recruited before the "special operation" were and why fifty-year-olds who never served were being sent to the front instead.

This kind of resentment comes from a current that is by no means anti-imperial war.

On the contrary, Kashevarova presented herself and the Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov as "angry patriots". The two demanded the dismissal of Colonel-General Alexandr Lapin, who was responsible for this sector of the front.

The problems in Lyman were reported two weeks ago, Kadyrov explained on his Telegram channel.

“A week later, Lapin moves his staff to Starobilsk, more than 100 kilometers from his subordinates, and slips away to Luhansk himself.

How can you operationally command your units when you are 150 kilometers away.”

While Putin has so far kept his nuclear threats vague and spoke of “all available means” in his speech on Friday, the Chechen ruler was more explicit: “Personally, I believe that we must take more drastic measures, up to and including imposition of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.” Kadyrov's statements make it clear that the Ukrainian liberation symbolism has had an impact on the hardliners on the Russian side.

“Yesterday there was a parade in Izyum, today a flag in Lyman, and tomorrow what?

Everything would be fine if it wasn't so bad," Kadyrov wrote.

In fact, the “angry patriots” Kashevarova and Kadyrov should have directed their criticism at the Russian president himself.

The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) writes that the defeat in Lyman "almost certainly" goes back to Vladimir Putin's decision not to reinforce the front section in northeastern Ukraine.

Instead, holding occupied territory in the southern Ukrainian regions of Cherson and Zaporizhia has higher priority for Putin.

Regarding Kadyrov's nuclear threat, the ISW writes that the Russian military "in its current state is almost certainly incapable of operating on a nuclear battlefield."

Regarding the criticism of the hardliners, the ISW writes,

The Defense Ministry in Moscow said on Saturday that Russian forces had been withdrawn from Lyman because of the risk of encirclement.

Previously, Ukrainian authorities had spoken of around 5,000 encircled Russian soldiers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi announced on Sunday afternoon that the city had been "completely cleared" of the occupying forces.

It is still unclear how many Russian soldiers were killed or taken prisoner in Lyman.

With the liberation of the northernmost city in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian army has the opportunity to advance into the Luhansk region, which is temporarily under Russian control.

After her surprise visit to Ukraine, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) also called Lyman's capture a "huge success" for Ukraine.

However, this is not yet a turning point.

"Unfortunately, we have to reckon with the fact that this war will last weeks and months."