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Russian TV pundit admits ‘we could lose war in Ukraine’ to stunned guests

Filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov said those who claimed the Western alliance was on the verge of falling apart were wrong.

Ukrainian service members ride a BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle along an empty street, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the frontline city of Bakhmut, Ukraine February 27, 2023. REUTERS/Alex Babenko
Russia's attack on Ukraine continues in the frontline city of Bakhmut. (Reuters)

A Russian pundit shocked his fellow guests after saying the country needed to acknowledge it could lose the war in Ukraine.

Filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov said those who claimed the Western alliance was on the verge of falling apart were wrong and Russia should admit a military defeat was a possibility.

The clip of him speaking on state broadcaster Russia-1 was shared by BBC journalist Francis Scarr on Twitter on Thursday, who said he hadn't seen an outburst like it since Ukraine’s counter-offensives last year.

Ukrainian forces repelled Russia's advance on Kyiv early in 2022, and the conflict, which Moscow calls a "special military operation," has become one of grinding trench warfare in the east and south.

Shakhnazarov said: "It really is a situation [in] which [we] may have the most serious consequences for us in the event of us losing.

"And we need to admit that we could lose. I don’t agree with those who say, ‘Don’t say that! We’ll win.’

‘I don’t know about that. I don’t know. We need to admit that we could lose. If you don’t you’re not looking for different possible outcomes.

"If you believe that things will just happen by themselves—no, that’s not right.

Read more: Ukrainian forces face continued heavy Russian attacks, army says

"It’s weakness! It’s not strength, it’s weakness. You have to be able to look the truth in the eyes. You have to be able to at your strengths and weaknesses and see the situation."

He also dismissed claims Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was just being controlled by the West.

He added: "We need to treat Ukraine and Zelensky seriously. He’s dangerous. He’s not stupid. He’s energetic.

"He’s playing a large role in this story. He’s not just a puppet."

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) talks with Karen Shakhnazarov,
general director of Mosfilm, during a visit to the Mosfilm Studio in
Moscow November 1, 2003. Mosfilm is Russia's largest and most
productive film studio. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin

waw/WS
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) with filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov in 2003. (Reuters)

It comes as Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut are facing increasingly strong pressure from Russian forces, British military intelligence said on Saturday.

Ukraine is reinforcing the area with elite units, while regular Russian army and forces of the Russian private military Wagner group have made further advances into Bakhmut's northern suburbs.

The British Defence Ministry said two key bridges in Bakhmut have been destroyed within the last 36 hours, adding that Ukrainian-held resupply routes out of the city are increasingly limited.

Ukraine's military command said Russia was still trying to surround Bakhmut but added that over the past day, Ukrainian forces had beaten back Russian attacks in the city.

Read more: Russia’s Sergey Lavrov provokes laughter from audience as he claims Ukraine started war

The battle for Bakhmut has raged for seven months. A Russian victory in the city, which had a pre-war population of about 70,000 and has been blasted to ruins in the onslaught, would give Moscow the first major prize in a costly winter offensive, after it called up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year.

Russia says it would be a stepping stone to completing the capture of the Donbas industrial region, one of Moscow's most important objectives.

The United States and its allies have committed billions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine, including Bradley fighting vehicles, tanks and advanced air defences.