“I don’t think it’s anything new, there is verifiable photographic, satellite, and personal testimony evidence that shows Russia is involved in military action in Ukraine.”
“Ultimately when you have a sustained campaign on this scale, errors slip out, and people do slip up. This is a mistake on the part of the Russian, more grist to the mill for people trying to get the word out that Russia is not a third party semi interested player, but is one party to a major international war.”
In February 2014, after months of protests in Ukraine, President Victor Yanukovych was forced out of office, and just a matter of days later armed men opposed to the Ukrainian Euromaidanmovement, believed internationally to be Russian forces, entered Crimea, Eastern Ukraine.
Russia continues to deny military involvement in the area, although it supports the cause of the rebels in the Donbass region of Ukraine, but says none forces are involved in the fighting.
“This webpage will presumably be claimed to have been forged,” suggests Nixey, who is an expert on the conflict, “as has been the case with dog tags, passports, satellite imagery, prisoners confessing and other evidence seen. They argue it is Western propaganda.”
“Any country in a long term war that a state can’t extract itself from will see support start to erode at home; whether it’s an autocracy or democracy, and Russia is no different.”
When asked what this news meant for the long term strategy of Putin, with seemingly high figures of deaths and casualties, Nixey argues that over time, Russian involvement in the fighting “will become a lot less popular.”
“If you look at the polls, yes, Russians at first glance seem broadly supportive of the war, but that’s propaganda. If you ask more specifically, should Russia should become embroiled in a war that will cost lives in Ukraine, support drops dramatically below 50 per cent.”
“There is no exit strategy for Putin, he’s in a war that he can’t afford to lose, but is incapable of being won; an impasse for Russia as the economy declines as does the popularity of the war.
“Soldiers on the front line aren’t likely to be in high spirits when death are kept secret and you don’t know what you’re fighting for. It can be covered up for a while, but it begins to leak out. By and large you’re trying to push back the tide, an increasingly difficult problem for the Kremlin.”
The Independent has reached out to the Kremlin for a comment.