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Vladimir Putin’s closest confidants are being blunt about what the retreat from Kherson means for them, a report said. Elites are coming to grips with the Russian military’s withdrawal earlier this month, the Russian independent news outlet Meduza reported, calling the recent events “very painful.”

Read more: War will be over by…: Ukraine’s deputy defence minister predicts

“There is an understanding that we lost the real war. People begin to think about how to live on, what place they would like to take in the future, what bet to make, what to play. [On the one hand] there will be revanchist sentiments. On the other hand, there will be a request for normalization and stabilization,” the report said.

The report also said that despite Kherson loss, Vladimir Putin remains optimistic as a “change in politics in Ukraine, notably the resignation of President Volodymyr Zelensky, would be positive. There was no reasoning behind such an expectation.”

Read more: Russian soldier flees Vladimir Putin’s army, wants to testify: ‘Never thought…’

John Spencer, the author of Understanding Urban Warfare told Newsweek that “Russia’s military is broken” adding that conscription does not automatically equate to a more combat-ready military, as soldiers thrust onto the battlefield still require effective leadership along with heavy armor and long-range capabilities.

“In that sense, Russia’s combat power has been severely diminished over the past eight-plus months at the same time that Ukraine’s has been enhanced thanks to assistance from its international partners,” John Spencer said.

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