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‘Heavy losses’ for Ukraine, the ‘feats’ of Russian soldiers, and ‘fake news’ from Kyiv How Russian state TV reported on Ukraine’s counteroffensive
In early September, the Ukrainian army launched an offensive on the country’s Kharkiv region, causing occupying Russian troops to retreat for the first time since the start of the full-scale war. According to independent analyses, Ukrainian forces have regained control of thousands of square kilometers. While the Russian Defense Ministry has technically confirmed the withdrawal, it claims the goal of this new “operation” is to consolidate its troops in the Donbas, not to flee a Ukrainian attack. Here’s what Russia’s TV personalities had to say about the retreat on September 11.
News of the Week (Rossiya-1)
TV pundit Dmitry Kiselyov brought up the retreat at the very start of his show. He noted that the past week had been “one of the most difficult” since the start of the war, and that “it was particularly difficult in the Kharkiv area, where, amidst an onslaught of superior enemy forces, union troops were forced to abandon previously-liberated settlements.”
Kiselyov also claimed that the Ukrainian army had suffered heavy losses — and that Russian forces managed to stabilize the situation and avoid getting surrounded. In a segment about Ukraine’s offensive on Kupyansk, a correspondent claimed that Ukrainian forces fired on residential areas and that their units are run predominantly by Western mercenaries.
Viewers were also told that Ukrainian troops in the Kherson region “were unable to secure gains that appeared attainable at the start of the offensive,” and that this was the reason why Ukainian soldiers began “terrorizing civilians.” Russian troops, said the correspondent, continue to gain ground in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Kiselyov also claimed that Ukrainians are carrying out “filtration” operations in their newly conquered territories, and that “neo-Nazis” have threatened to kill civilians — especially those who managed to get Russian passports. “It’s all very sad,” he concluded.
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Weekly Review (NTV)
Weekly Review host Irada Zeinalova didn’t go into detail about the Russian army's retreat on Sunday, but the episode did include a press briefing from Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defense Ministry representative. Konashenkov announced an “operation to curtail and organize the transfer of troops from the Izyum-Balakliya direction to scale up efforts in the Donetsk area.”
A segment filmed on the ground in Ukraine claimed that fighting in the Kharkiv region was ongoing, but that “the worst case scenario — the encirclement of union forces that Ukraine so desires — didn’t come to pass.” In addition, said the correspondent, the “Ukrainian-American-European” forces are in a weak position because they’re spread so thin along the front line.
Nonetheless, he continued, Ukraine continues to “spread fake reports of a victory.”
Sunday Time (Channel One)
Sunday Time, the final show of the week from Russia’s flagship news channel, Channel One, contained almost no mention of the Russian army's retreat.
“Fierce fighting in recent days: the elimination of remaining militants, who suffered huge losses as they tried to break through to Kherson; the liberation of strategically important parts of the DNR; and the regrouping of troops,” the host said at the top of the episode.
The network aired excerpts from Konashenkov’s briefing that included his claims about Ukrainian losses, but didn’t show his announcement about the “operation to curtail and organize the transfer of troops” from the Kharkiv region.
Next, there was a segment on the “feats of soldiers and commanders during the course of the regrouping that was mentioned earlier.” The correspondent didn’t give any details about the “regrouping” other than by repeating the Defense Ministry’s statement about the “operation to curtail and organize the transfer of troops out of the Izyum-Balakliya area.”
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