Russia invasion: Ukrainian soldiers deliver epic message to Australia

Soldiers on the front line of the Ukrainian offensive have thanked Australia for providing Bushmasters military vehicles, which have played a huge role in the recent liberation of the city of Kharkiv.

The troops claim the Australian-built four-wheel drive armoured vehicles have helped in their highly-successful counterattack against the invading Russians.

“Bushmaster, (genus Lachesis), an Amazonian venomous snake subdued by our soldiers that stings the enemy unexpectedly, painfully, and fatally. Thanks to our Australian wizards for the instruction manual,” Defence of Ukraine wrote on Twitter.

A video shows an English-speaking Ukrainian officer surrounded by five battle-weary soldiers.

The Ukrainian officer outlined what the Bushmaster had meant for the forces and the role it played in the recent offensive in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.

“The Bushmaster armoured personnel carrier is used by the Airborne Forces of Ukraine to reach forward operating areas,” he explained.

“We’re grateful to the people and government of Australia for providing these to us.

“They were a great asset to us in liberating the areas around Kharkiv. Together we’re working towards a victory.”

So far Australia has committed to provide Ukraine with 60 Bushmasters, 14 M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers, six M777 howitzers and a total of$388 million in military assistance.

Ukraine claimed victory in Kharkiv on Tuesday, raising flags across the region which had been occupied by Russian troops for six months.

Recently liberated areas in Kharkiv were among the first claimed by Moscow on the first day of Mr Putin’s invasion.

Putin hits new low as Ukraine reclaims land

The Kremlin appears to be putting out spotfires of dissent against Mr Putin as spreading criticism over the Ukraine invasion quickly threatens to become an inferno.

Moscow’s humiliating setbacks in eastern Ukraine over the weekend sent Russian hawks into a frenzy.

To put an end to the avalanche of scathing critiques, the Kremlin issued a warning to those who would go too far in questioning its strategy.

Dissenting voices need to “remain within the law” that punishes people “discrediting” the army, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

“The line is very, very thin, one must be very careful here,” Mr Peskov continued.

The Russian defence ministry is painting the setback as a strategic “regrouping” of its troops and denying any debacle took place.

But this weekend’s news threw a wrench into the Russian media’s previously harmonious choir that had been relaying the Kremlin’s message since the beginning of the special operation: everything is going to plan.

Even Vladimir Solovyov, one of the main Kremlin propagandists, admitted that “the situation is difficult, serious”.

Furthermore, an act once deemed inconceivable occurred when a flurry of media pundits, analysts, bloggers and officials criticised the handling of the operation on TV shows and on social media.

Hard line Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov lambasted the “mistakes” he said Russian generals had made in a voice note to his 2.4 million followers on Telegram.

He said if no changes were made in the conduct of the special military operation, “I will be forced to go speak to the ministry of defence and the country’s leadership to explain the situation on the ground.”

The Opposition, though weakened by a huge crackdown since the beginning of the offensive, doubled down on the criticisms.

What’s new is that criticism is now coming from nationalist groups who usually fervently support the military operation.

While not the first setback for the Russian troops, who retreated from Kyiv and lost their admiral ship in April, this was particularly shocking to them.

Conservative commentator Yegor Kholmogorov said there were only two possible explanations for the blow.

Either “we were betrayed,” or “our army is not fit for combat,” Mr Kholmogorov said.

On a televised debate, former politician Boris Nadezhdin argued that “it is absolutely impossible to defeat Ukraine using resources that Russia is fighting with, and with its colonial war methods, using contract soldiers, mercenaries and no mobilisation”. He was swiftly put in his place by another guest.

Local elected officials in Saint Petersburg called for Mr Putin’s resignation – even if their petition has about zero chances of succeeding.

A group of local government-level politicians are swiftly and harshly being dealt with by a local court after accusations “treason” against Mr Putin and calls for his resignation.

The Smolninskoye district council members in St. Petersburg. Mr Putin’s home town, face fines and will have their council dissolved as a result.

One of the members, Nikita Yuferev, has revealed the council will likely be broken up by the regional governor.

Another council member claimed he was fined 47,000 roubles ($A1167) for “discrediting” authorities.

Another four more members of the Smolninskoye local council are due to appear in court in coming days.

Some of the military operation’s staunchest supporters are now calling on the Kremlin to scale things up in Ukraine.

Blogger Maxim Fomin – writing as “Vladlen Tatarsky” on a Telegram channel followed by more than 400,000 people – prescribed a “preventive nuclear strike” on Snake Island, abandoned by Russian troops in July.

However, Mr Putin’s Russia was not facing major risks yet, according to R.Politik founder Tatiana Stanovaya but it could soon if the war keeps deteriorating on the frontline.

“With more losses, more defeats, a retreat, then the relationships between patriots and the authorities could seriously be put to the test,” she told AFP.

Ms Stanovaya explained it could become harder to clamp down on those critics.

Contrary to the opposition that was “squashed (by being painted) as an ideological enemy and mouthpiece for the West”, a so-called patriotic protest could be “seen as legitimate” in Russia.

The internal dissent on Russia’s home front is only outdone by the relentless taunts from the Ukrainian resistance.

On Tuesday, the official Twitter of the Ukrainian forces showed what is claimed to be a Soviet Union-era Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jet fighter crashing and exploding on take off in the Crimea region.

“Sunday morning in Crimea. Another Su-25 is down. Incompetence at all levels. Weapons in the hands of Russians are the danger, first of all, to themselves,” the account wrote.

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