Desperate Russia’s Wild Lies Leave Soldiers Waving Red Underpants

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine continues to claim lives, as the Kremlin’s military leadership resorts to increasingly brutal tactics against civilians—including a ghastly attack on a children's hospital in Kyiv and other sites across Ukraine. In their comments on state television, prominent propagandists often reiterate that Moscow’s campaign of senseless brutality is designed to prompt Ukrainians to overthrow their government. Russian talking heads also resort to nuclear threats, which is always a sign that things on the battlefront are not going well.

Indeed, Russian propagandists and military experts are tacitly acknowledging sinking morale and widespread lying in their military. Despite sunny reports by Russia’s Defense Ministry, grim realities prompted the newest Minister of Defense Andrey Belousov to stress, “Making mistakes is acceptable; lying is not.”

Appearing on Tuesday’s broadcast of Vladimir Solovyov’s morning show, Full Contact, military expert Vladislav Shurygin revealed some examples of the dishonesty Russian authorities are having to contend with. Using the code 500s, he said that there are soldiers who have fled or refused to fight in Ukraine. Shurygin recounted, “I was talking to a Commander of one regiment, who said that their neighboring division did not support them, did not go into battle. Why? Because according to their list, there are 1,400 soldiers, but in reality, there are half as many. Tons of people are running around elsewhere, some did not come back from their vacations, but there is no desire to report it honestly, because there will be repercussions.”

He continued, “When we’re asking why we can’t forcefully move forward, when you add up all of these issues—turns out, we have systematic problems.”

Panicked Russia Is Now Telling Reluctant Soldiers They Will Be Resurrected

Solovyov, who demonstrates his loyalty to Putin’s regime by doggedly producing reports from the frontlines, relayed another glaring issue. He said Russian military commanders have been falsely claiming to have taken certain towns or villages. “You brought up lying,” he said. “My close friend, Ilyukha—I talk about him a lot—the head of combat training for the fifth brigade, created a system of red underpants. They would regularly get hit because of their lying neighboring units. They exclaimed that certain places were taken, but then it turned out that they actually weren’t.”

Solovyov described the process that had to be created because of these deceptive commanders: A surveillance drone is sent to the area that was supposedly taken by Russian troops, “If you’re really there, wave a red rag over your head. Then it becomes clear whether you’re really there, or are just claiming to be there in your reports. This is called a system of red underpants, it works very well. You immediately see what is real and what is a fairy tale.”

Shurygin complained that this problem is not limited to low-level commanders and is prevalent on the highest levels, adding, “We can recall how our Supreme Commander received reports that the village of Krynky was taken, and everything is tremendous. Then we spent six more months squeezing the enemy out of there.”

He was referring to a meeting of Russia’s former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with Putin in February of 2024, when he falsely assured the Russian president that the village of Krynky was taken.

Recounting his meetings with unnamed high-ranking officials, Solovyov claimed they are aware of the widespread lying and know that every bit of information must be re-checked and verified.

Shurygin noted, “In reality, just like you, I have a feeling of anxious anticipation. I realize that summer is already in its second half and there hasn’t been any significant breakthrough on the frontlines, for many different reasons.” He bemoaned the division in Russian society, where one half is preoccupied with war, gathering funds for the frontlines—and the rest prefer to forget about the invasion and live as though it isn’t happening.

Tense and morose, Solovyov laced the rest of his program with heavy sighs and loud complaints. He attempted to reassure his viewers with promises of a desperately needed military coalition that will step in to join the ranks of Russia’s wavering troops. Imagining the likes of WHO? China and North Korea joining the fight, Solovyov said, “NATO should understand they aren’t going to fight against 150 million [Russians], but 1.5 to 2 billion people are behind us! Until then, they will keep jointly attacking us.”

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